Wearing his novelist’s hat, Henkes (Protecting Marie, 1995, etc.) offers another meticulously crafted, quietly engaging epiphany: A 10-year-old looking for just the right memento of his recently dead grandmother finds it literally in his hands. It’s been two months since Gram’s funeral, and Spoon, worried about his fading memories of her, surreptitiously searches his grandparents’ house for something of hers with which to anchor them. He settles at last on the deck of cards she always used for solitaire, but his twinge of guilt becomes knife- edged when Pa, his grieving grandfather, allows that he’d been taking some comfort from using those cards, and can’t sleep for wondering what happened to them. Spoon finds the courage to put them back and to confess; later he discovers something better–a tracing of Gram’s hand, made when she was his age, with a big M on it and the legend, “M is always for Martha,” which was her name. Why better? Because he finds the same M in the creases in the lines of his own palm, as well as in his younger sister’s and parents’ palms. Henkes deftly delineates characters and relationships with brief conversations and small personal or family rituals, folds in motifs–hands, the sun–to give the plot a pleasing rhythm, and consistently finds the perfect words to evoke each moment’s sometimes-complex feelings. Like Henkes’s other novels, this is more restrained in tone than his picture books, but it is infused with the same good humor, wisdom, and respect for children’s hearts and minds that characterize all his works. (Fiction. 9-11)
Amazon Editorial Reviews
Ten-year-old Spoon Gilmore is consumed with one worry–that he will forget his beloved, recently deceased grandmother. The solution, he decides, is to somehow find a memento, something that he can touch and hold close so that her memory will live forever. The trouble begins when Spoon steals the memento (his grandmother’s special solitaire deck of cards) from his grandfather’s house. At first the cards give him the reassurance he longed for. But soon after, Spoon’s grandfather confides that he too was finding comfort in the deck of cards and is now suffering from insomnia, fretting over what could have happened to them. Kevin Henkes drives this story with unusual characters, such as Spoon’s eccentric younger sister who carries suitcases full of twigs, and Spoon himself, a complicated boy grappling with guilt and loss. With the finesse of a polished novelist, Henkes also introduces an abundance of delicious metaphors–his parents’ vegetable garden (their nurturing and grounded ways); his grandmother’s sun collection (a constant life force); a deck of solitaire cards (the solo journey of grief), and on it goes. But most impressive is Henkes’s compassion for the painful mistakes that children often make while trying to sort out the inevitably disturbing emotions and events of childhood. American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, Publishers Weekly
Best Book, School Library Journal
From Publishers Weekly
“Ten-year-old Spoon Gilmore’s grandmother has just died, but her presence is strongly felt throughout this exceptionally moving novel about grief and rejuvenation,” said PW in a boxed review. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-Kevin Henkes’ moving story of adjusting to loss (Greenwillow, 1997) is beautifully narrated by Blair Brown. Spoon’s grandmother’s sudden death has hit him hard. Wanting something to remember her by but not wanting to talk about his feelings, he takes Gram’s playing cards decorated with pictures of the sun without asking. When he learns that his grandfather is hunting high and low for those cards, Spoon replaces them and finally admits his deed. Henkes creates an original yet convincing fictional family from Spoon’s teacher parents who spend all summer working in their garden, to his lovable younger sister Joanie who insists on carrying around a suitcase filled with “bones” (sticks). Brown has a pleasant voice and interprets the characters well, reading with expression and sensitivity. The word-for-word narration is well-paced and well-recorded. Appropriate for individual or group listening, it will be well-received in both school and public libraries.
Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.edition.
Gr. 3^-5. Spoon’s grandmother is dead, and in his grief, he tries to find something to remember her by. When no one is looking, he takes her pack of solitaire cards, but his grandfather misses them, and Spoon’s secret weighs on him until he returns the cards, admits his guilt, and finds something amazing and enduring to help him with his sorrow. There’s a strong sense of a loving, rooted family–Spoon’s parents are making a garden–but more than the metaphor, Henkes pulls you in when he writes a plain, beautiful sentence (“this was the first time someone he loved would be gone forever”). Every child who has lost a beloved relative will recognize the immensity of this ordinary experience.
“Once again Henkes captures young angst with respect and honesty.” — School Library Journal
Henkes’s deftness and gift in Sun and Spoon are not always in the actual story, which contains some overly familiar elements, but in his sensitive observation of each character’s passions and eccentricities. The book glitters with small, memorable moments that seem true to life, yet fresh and unexpected. (Ages 8 and older) — The New York Times Book Review, Elizabeth Spires
About the Author
Kevin Henkes has been praised both as a writer and as an illustrator. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon; a Caldecott Honor for Owen; two Newbery Honors, one for Olive’s Ocean and one for The Year of Billy Miller; and a Geisel Honor for Penny and Her Marble. His other books include Old Bear, A Good Day, Chrysanthemum, and the beloved Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.
The sadness of loss and the gentle comfort of remembrance permeate this lovely story of Spoon Gilmore in the summer following his beloved grandmother’s death. As Spoon searches for the token he needs to keep Gram close to his heart, Blair Brown breathes life not only into Spoon but also into his quirky and lovable family as wellÐhis gentle, husky-voiced grandfather; his generous, garden-addicted parents; and, most particularly, his sparkling and pesky sister, Joanie. Brown portrays the charming, obsessive, stick-collecting Joanie so richly that the listener imagines this six-year-old to be a reincarnation of Brown’s own girlhood self. Joanie comes so fully alive, in fact, that Brown’s reading of Spoon pales just a bit in comparison. The wonderful combination of heartfelt emotion and ordinary humor will make this a favorite for individual, as well as family, listening. T.B. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Amazon Reader Review
Kevin Henke did again. He made another one of his spectacular books. Sun and Spoon is a great book for children. It teaches kids honesty, friendship, and family. It talks about a boy who hardly knew a thing about his grandma. Then when he wanted to know a little about her it was to late, she had died. This taught me that I should spend time with older people in my family, especially my great aunt and uncle. That’s why I go to their house every other week. This book had a big impact on me and it might do the same to you