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Bestselling novelist (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) and children's (The Tia Lola Stories) author Julia Alvarez's new picture book is a beautifully crafted poem for children that gently addresses the emotional side of death. The book asks, "When somebody dies, where do they go? / Do they go where the wind goes when it blows? ... Do they wink back at me when I wish on a star? Do they whisper, 'You're perfect, just as you are'? ..." Illustrated by Vermont woodcut artist, Sabra Field, Where Do They Go? is a beautiful and comforting meditation on death, asking questions young readers might have about what happens to those they love after they die.
A Spanish-language edition of the book, ¿Donde va a parar?, is available in paperback.
About the Author
JULIA ALVAREZ is the author of numerous books for adults including In the Time of the Butterflies, and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, which was picked by New York librarians as one of 21 classic for the 21st century. She is also an accomplished writer of children's and YA books including The Tia Lola Stories, Return to Sender, and Before We Were Free, which was an ALA Best Book of 2002 and winner of ALA's Pura Belpre Award. She is Writer in Residence at Middlebury College, and co-founder with Bill Eichner of Alta Gracia, a sustainable coffee farm and literacy center in the Dominican Republic. And she is a founding member of Border of Lights, an ongoing movement to promote peace and collaboration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She lives in Vermont.
"...a meditative poem that asks all the hard questions and offers lyrical possibilities filled with life and love." —The New York Times Book Review
"This beautiful book asks all the right questions to help young children become aware of the eternal bonds that live on after death, while wisely leaving the answers to the readers themselves. A book to ponder, to discuss, and to cherish.” —R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder
"Grief is complicated for adults and even more so for children. Julia Alvarez's stunning picture book, Where Do They Go?, uses simple yet lyrical language to explore death in all its nuanced aspects, while bringing comfort to us all, both adults and children alike. Where Do They Go? is a must read for those who are grieving and those who have ever grieved. That is, it is a perfect book for everyone." —Edwidge Danticat, author of Mama's Nightingale
"This lyrical, thoughtful, and affecting book about the many facets of the grieving and healing process is one both children and adults can appreciate." —Booklist
"With a sad, gentle voice, Julia Alvarez addresses death with the beautiful language I’ve come to expect from her. She uses poetry to meditate on the questions we’ve all had about loss:
“When somebody dies, where do they go? / Do they go where the wind goes when it blows? … Do they wink back at me when I wish on a star? Do they whisper, ‘You’re perfect, just as you are’?”
These haunting, poignant words go well with Field’s simple, yet beautiful artwork." —BookRiot
"Two gifted Vermonters join forces to tackle the mysteries of death head-on. A timeless question asked by children and adults alike brings together the voluminous talents of novelist, poet, and children's author Alvarez and renowned woodblock artist Field. In this spare, rhymed poem, "Where do they go?" is the driving query of those left wondering and reckoning with loss "when somebody dies": "Who can I ask? / Does anyone know? // Do they go where the wind goes / when it blows? // Do they fall with the rain / from the sky? / Are they my tears / when I cry?" Field's visibly textured prints portray the bereaved here as, mostly, grade school-aged children of different races, allowing readers everywhere to relate. Especially moving are Field's depictions of the departed in near-featureless blank white or black profile, vividly contrasting with the colorful, animated children longing to fill the absence of the missing loved ones. The text is laid out over and around the illustrations; calming horizontal lines of text and image complement one another on some pages, while on others the text is actively incorporated into the pictures. Without ever venturing an explicit explanation, Alvarez offers many tempting suggestions for those adapting to what remains and posits a wonderfully calming conclusion to a "small puzzle" that can sometimes prove large enough to unmoor those beset by loss of a loved one, especially for the first time. Alvarez and Field's remarkable synthesis of word and image here makes for a seamless, powerfully evocative contemplation of grief. (Picture book/poetry. 3-7)" —Kirkus Reviews
"This is a stunningly beautiful all-ages book about grieving that can accommodate varied belief systems. It ultimately provides the comforting message that we carry the people we love in our heart and that they are always with us in some way. There really aren’t any books that address loss like this one. I find it very comforting." --Kelly at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.