Before I met my now husband, I was a single working mother to a proud, precocious little girl. Recently, I confessed to her how I wished I had been able to spend more time with her, before school, after school, on weekends when I was catching up with laundry, busy work, or socializing. In the midst of that, my young girl grew up as a “latch-key” child. I left her notes from leftover scratchpads and placed them in her pockets, her lunches, on the fridge, mirrors, hoping to engage in the best form of closeness and connection reminding her I was never really far away. This was way before texting, independent phones, or FaceTime. Socializing and connecting now, has a new connotation.
However, in Away written by Emil Sher, winner of a child’s worry and fears of going to sleep-away camp are communicated between mom and child in the form of Post-it Notes. With determined emotion, Skip, with her sidekick cat, Lester, communicates on pastel stickies an un-desire to go. In the days before the impending date, there are things to do: laundry, math quizzes, cleaning under a bed, dinner, grocery shopping, a visit with “Mimsy,” and playing. Mom’s Post-it Note responses are undramatic and matter-of-fact reassuring her young child that camp won’t be horrible.
Illustrator, Qin Leng, winner of the 2015 APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) award, through her soft lovely, fluid water color, depicts busy, rapid movements mimicking their active life style while also showing a softer side of a loving relationship.
On my desk sits this framed note my daughter wrote to me when she was five or six – I can’t remember, but this book reminds me how little love notes demonstrate that communication can form a devoted bond no matter how busy our lives can be.
Please keep an eye on the cat.
Published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, Toronto (2017) and sells at a variety of bookstores. It is also available as an e-book.