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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Death is hard enough to understand and accept as an adult, but for a child, it’s incomprehensible. Little Princess Lillian’s come to the hospital with her parents to say goodbye to her beloved grandfather. She doesn’t understand where he’s going, or why. And she wants him to come back and visit her. She doesn’t want to say goodbye forever. But her parents and her grandfather tell her of this great kingdom, this eternal home, where everyone who serves the Great King will finally go, and she learns that one day she will go there, too, and see her grandfather again.
Jenny Fulton’s picture book story, Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, is a compassionate and careful look at the difficulties of understanding death. Using a combination of Navajo and Christian beliefs, the author presents the idea of heaven and earth, two worlds interconnected in a spiritual sense, in a way that will be understandable to a young reader. This is a complex subject, but the author brilliantly makes it very simple, pointing out that the forever home to which Lillian’s grandfather is going is something to plan for through learning the ways and caring nature of the one Great King. The child is given a concise explanation, from her parents and her grandfather, in a slow, carefully constructed manner so as not to confuse and scare her. The illustrations are soft, subtle, and speak highly of Native American artistry. Beautifully presented and told; very poignant and touching. It even brought tears to my eyes.