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Friday, April 13, 2012

Kindred Souls, written by Patricia MacLachlan. Harper, 2012. $16.99 ages 8 and up

"I look up and she is gone.
And I know. I know that I'm not
really angry. I am afraid. Afraid that I
can't build the sod house that Billy
wants so much.
I turn out my bedside light.
Then I turn it on again, and put
the sod house book under my
pillow and turn off the light again.
Kindred souls."

Patricia MacLachlan has an uncanny ability to tell a perfect story, with not one unnecessary word. In her new book about family, the reader becomes immediately in tune with Billy and his grandson, Jake. They live on the farm where Billy has spent his whole life. Behind the trees on a nearby hill is the sod house where he began that long life. As he and Jake take daily walks around the farm, Billy tells his grandson stories.

The original sod house has fallen in and is covered with verdant greenery that always manages to find life in unusual spots. As Jake listens to his grandfather's stories, he sees the farm as his grandfather sees it. They are 'kindred souls'.  They have a very special relationship and it is that bonding that makes this a perfect book for child to read to beloved grandparent, or the other way around...grandparent to child.

There are signs of Billy's failing health; Jake knows he need not worry. Billy will always be there. When Billy must be hospitalized, Jake voices Billy's fervent wish that they build another sod house...the original holds love and wonderful memories for him. Jake is the driving force that leads he and his siblings to build a new sod house. Each brings their own expertise to the construction. As Billy spends his time recovering, they take on a most ambitious project and time is short.

Will they surprise Billy?

Everything about this small book is bigger than it looks...the love of family, the power of the connections from one generation to another, the beauty of a story well-told and the joy to be had from dreams fulfilled and a life well-lived.

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