Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review :: See You When I See You

See You When I See You - Written by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson


"A stand-alone follow-up to the acclaimed and beloved chapter books that began with New York Times Notable Book My Happy Life."

Get ready for a long review, because there's a lot to unpack with this little book.  See You When I See You is very much emotion-driven, and threaded with unexpected undercurrents.

There's plenty that is relatable to young school children, and Dani really is a sweet and authentic character.  She is well cared for by family who obviously attempt to keep a close eye on her.  It's also sooooo beautifully presented.  I absolutely adore Eriksson's illustrations, as per usual.  In fact, a lot of the sweetness of this book can be confidently attributed to the illustrations.

Concerning safety, too much is left unresolved for me to say I love this book.  For instance there are some issues with disclosure that unsettled me.  There were at least two major instances where Dani's safety was deeply compromised and neither herself nor the adults caring for her revealed this to her father.  Even more worryingly, her cousin Sven has a close and private friendship with an adult male.  There's no suggestion of its being sinister, but having recently read an article in which a father details how his daughter was groomed by someone, I couldn't help but draw comparisons.  And worry.  This is an unnecessary inclusion in the first place (it has no bearing on the story), and it's described in a way that sets alarm bells ringing.  Now I don't know the back story, but neither does Eleanor.  We'll have a conversation about it, for sure.

Further to this, Dani seems to be being bullied by school mates, while her best friend is bullied and manhandled by her teacher!!!  Perhaps this is acceptable in Sweden?  It's certainly not legal here!  Ella and Dani's friendship itself doesn't provide the healthiest example.  Ella coerces Dani into activity that make Dani feel unsafe (running away and avoiding adults trying to help her).  Yet Dani's biggest motivation in the book is to ensure Ella's happiness.  Eeeeek!  So there's a few conversations I'll need to have with Eleanor.

Whew.

I know, it's a lot.

There is a story thread that is (mostly) worked through in a meaningful way.  Dani's widower father has found a new love, causing tensions between himself and his daughter and with her maternal grandparents.  There's an openness to the way Dani expresses her feelings, and resolves them.  She is supported by her grandmother, and also by her father's new love, and eventually by him, too.

It's a short read, so I would suggest a quick pre-read before deciding if it's for you.  Perhaps prepare some follow up questions to go over with your little one.  I haven't read the other titles, but the synopses suggest that they are really sweet, and given the tenderness that is regularly applied in this story, I will definitely seek them out and give them a try.  

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