Tree. Table. Book

Clarion. Apr. 2024. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063299504.
Gr 3-7–Two-time Newbery award–winner Lowry’s latest is a sentimental look at the painful effects of memory loss on friends and family. Lowry crafts a story within a story about a writer reflecting on one defining moment that shaped her life. That moment was when thoughtful and sensitive 11-year-old Sophia said goodbye to her best friend and neighbor, 88-year-old Sophie Gershowitz, a Jewish immigrant from Poland about to enter assisted living due to dementia. While Sophia tries to prove that her older friend has strong enough cognitive functioning to continue living on her own, she discovers how words evoke powerful memories. Educators could use this text to encourage astute observations in future writers while acknowledging the complexities of perception and storytelling, and to illustrate examples of figurative language. Social workers could use this text in lessons about coming to terms with illness and aging loved ones. At about 200 pages, this title has appeal for those on the younger end of middle grade, too. Lowry skillfully depicts the tenderness of nostalgia, and yearning for a return to different times.
VERDICT A sweet story of friendship across generations about a timely and tough topic, with broad appeal.

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