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Jessica Sliwerski reads from CANCER HATES KISSES
Saturday, October 14th
This is a much-needed title about a disease that affects too many families.
In this multiracial family, it’s Mama, a white woman, who’s battling cancer. The children narrate in short, descriptive statements. The very first comment captures their admiration for their mother and their optimism about the outcome: “Mama is a cancer-fighting superhero.” They maintain this tone throughout, keeping young readers’ fears at bay. In addition, watercolor-and-ink drawings that range from vignettes to full spreads are painted in soft, comforting pastel colors. Mama bravely goes to the doctor for tests, keeps up her daily routine, even undergoes surgery in a hospital with a diverse staff. In a touching scene in the hospital, the children kiss Mama’s “warrior wounds,” as “Cancer hates kisses,” with their father, an Asian man, and grandmother also in loving attendance. Mama’s cheerleaders are honest when they acknowledge that the treatments, especially chemo, exhaust their mother, make her lose her hair, and make her cry sometimes. Then the family does combat together, with dance parties and jokes. The book provides just the right amount of information about what to expect and balances that with an outline of how the family can offer support and love—because what cancer hates most is love.
Closing with notes from a cancer specialist and the author, a cancer survivor, this book with its positive message is a must-have for all collections serving families. (Picture book. 5-8)
For a great write-up on the project, see this Chicago Tribune article: "Mother fights back against breast cancer with picture book"