Monday, September 23, 2013

Always By My Side - a book review

Quote of the Day:   "He fed his spirit with the bread of books."
                                               ~Edwin Markham

Title:  Always By My Side
Author:  Susan Kerner
Illustrator:  Ian P. Benfold Haywood

This book has a gentle and loving spirit oozing out of every page.  Written in rhyme, it is composed for children to help them comprehend the forever love of a father, even if he is absent from that child's life. The heart -warming illustrations invite you in to share the intimacy of an absentee father's heart, still connected to his kids.  The children encounter their dad in all the beautiful aspects of nature around them.  Their dad is present in the shimmering leaves, the lapping waves of the ocean, the warm sunshine rays, the birds happily singing and doggies barking at play as they are out for a well-deserved walk.  He whispers words of encouragement and sympathy into their hearts when they are sad or injured.  The illustrations portray children of every culture experiencing the omnipresence of their dad. One must acknowledge that it is the mom who keeps the spirit of her husband, and her children's father alive in their life.  She points out that the children have their father's eyes and many traits that come straight from him.  She passes on the shared family love through the days, months and years, never letting their children forget how much their father loved them.  The last page says, "So as you brighten the world with your sparkling life, with an all-knowing smile you'll say, 'My daddy is in me and everywhere...he's just here in a different way.'  I particularly love the last page showing a little boy, asleep, hugging his teddy bear, and beside his bed is a photo of his beloved dad keeping him company through the night.

This is a perfect book to read to your child if his father has passed on, is on military deployment, is working through a parental divorce or if his dad travels a lot.  It reminds kids that they are forever connected through their thoughts and imagination to their dad.   This would be an excellent addition in a school library or for a child therapist.

About the Author:

Susan Kerner found herself beside her new husband Alan, who was lying in a hospice, dying from cancer.  She also was pregnant with their child.  After he passed on, Susan wandered the various bookstores searching for books to read to their daughter, Lily Alan, but realized the books brought up many questions about her dad who loved her dearly but had never met her.  The result was the book she wrote, "Always By My Side."  You can catch an interview with Susan on YouTube by Starbright books.  The book has the same feel as "Love You Forever", by Robert Munsch and "Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother's Words to a Faraway Child", by Patricia MacLachlan.  

About the Illustrator: 

Ian P. Benfold Haywood
Ian Benfold Haywood studied Fine Art at the Nottingham School of Art. He specialized in painting, and later went on to study Illustration for Children at the University of North Wales with distinction. He has lived as a painter in Spain, worked as a community artist, and has been a teacher. For several years he was the marketing manager for a large Japanese company, and still runs his own small business trading with companies from around the world. Ian has published over thirty books. He recently won the silver medal at the Nestle Book Awards for Catcall, as well as the London Book Fair's Best Illustration prize in 2010. His work ranges from flap books for the very young to picture books and teen fiction chapter heads and interiors. He is represented by the Darley Anderson Children's Book Agency. VISIT Ian Benfold Haywood's website here.

                                                  Book Review Rating:    8  (Fantastic!)

Read on and read always!   Have a super day!

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