There Was a Hole

Sleeping Bear. Mar. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534111226.
K-Gr 2–Lehrhaupt introduces readers to a young girl, Lily, who feels as if there is an empty hole in her chest, a representational story element for a feeling of loss that grows as she struggles to continue her normal home and school life. Though her father tries to cheer her up with her favorite things, Lily receives and follows empathetic advice from a classmate, who also carries a “hole,” about making patches to “repair” the hole. O’Neill’s easy-to-read digital illustrations, with components of real-world textures, depict all the new patches Lily creates to cover the hole, including volunteering, reading with her dad, gardening, and playing with friends. With simple language and short sentence structure to define what loss of any nature can feel like for a child, this quick-paced story is an accessible example of how to think about and manage possible steps towards coping with sadness and pain in a way that fills the “hole” with friends, family, self-care, and positive change. In the right adult hands, it will lead to further discussion with about how others, including professionals, can be critical supports and advisors of coping strategies.
VERDICT Purposely nonspecific about the type of “hole” the main character feels, this story presents a means to open a dialogue with children about learning to notice and find words for painful feelings, as well as a lesson in the emotional support others can offer.

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