by Cynthia Rylant
This book demonstrates alternate lifestyles and families to children. It shows children how to deal with adoption and the death of a family member. Summer is an orphaned child who is adopted by her elderly Aunt May and Uncle Ob after being passed around from relative to relative. Summer learns what it means to love and be loved and admires the love shared between her Aunt and Uncle. When May dies, Summer and Ob are both very distraught and deal with the pain of losing a loved one for the first time. Ob is very depressed and is struggling to go on without his beloved wife. Summer is terrified that she will be left alone if Ob dies too. Cletus, a boy from school , befriends Summer and Ob and becomes their daily company. He listens to Ob's stories about May visiting him in spirit and finds a Reverend in Putnam County who can communicate with the dead. The three of them set off to find the Reverend but find out she is dead. After being dissapointed that they cannot reach May spiritually, Summer has her own spiritual encounter with May and is able to find closure. Ob and Summer start a new day and are able to finally say goodbye to May and continue living their lives. This book teaches children that it is okay to be sad when someone you love dies and to miss them, but you still must go on with your life. I would use this book in my classroom to inform students about different style families and also to show them appropriate ways to deal with death.