Book Review: The Goodbye Cancer Garden

Author: Janna Matthies
Illustrator: Kristi Valiant
Interest Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Albert Whitman

From the Book Jacket: One winter day. Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has cancer. Soon the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions. "Is Mom better yet?" Jeffrey asks. "Not yet," the doctor says. "But we're working very hard to make her better - probably by pumpkin time." That gives Janie an idea: to plant a vegetable garden. As the garden grows, Mom's treatment progresses - and when it's all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a recovering Mom!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I really admire families who do something proactive when they are going through a rough time. They also set an example for those around them. The Goodbye Cancer Garden is all about optimism, living in the moment, and sticking together as a family. Instead of solely focusing on fear and negativity of what might happen with mom's cancer, the family plants a garden honoring what they are going through and in my opinion....planting seeds of hope. 

Sometimes I pass over bibliotherapy because it makes the reader feel so down in the dumps. This is the opposite of that. It's going to empower your child and give them an opportunity to come up with their own idea. Maybe they will want to get a family project going. How cool would that be. Not only does it take their minds off the illness but it's very healing to be actively doing something during a difficult time. Bibliotherapy that teaches children to have a 'voice of hope' is much needed when you are fighting a family illness. This one came in the form of a garden inspired by a child's optimistic feeling. Beautiful.

PS. Last thought - I can also see myself reading this to a class to help kids come up with an idea to support another child or family going through cancer.

A Link to This Book:

1 comment

  1. Would you recommend any of these cancer books for kids who have a sibling diagnosed with cancer, not a mom? Can you change the "mom" to "brother" when reading them book? Would the same message get across? Thanks! I haven't read these yet!