________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 3 . . . . September 18, 2015


Kisses for Later.

Jenn Zahavich. Illustrated by Julie-Lynn Zahavich.
Victoria, BC: Friesen Press, 2015.
30 pp., pbk. & pdf, $12.99 (pbk.), $3.99 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-4602-5991-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4602-5992-4 (pdf).

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Like Robert Munsch's Love You Forever, Kisses for Later speaks to the unending, unlimited love a parent has for her/his child/ren. Three-year-old Coady (or free-year-old, as Coady describes himself), is an imaginative toddler who is supported in his daily play by his mother who provides a mother's magical healing kiss when hurts intrude. Anticipating attending his first day at playschool, Coady excitedly exclaims, "This was going to be the best day ever!" However, when he returns that afternoon, a subdued Coady tells his mother, "Today at school I got a hurt and missed you. I was sad."

      Mom, knowing that she cannot always be physically present to kiss away Coady's hurts, comes up with a most creative, and loving, solution - a reservoir of healing kisses that can be drawn upon whenever they are needed. And the location of the reservoir?

"Give me your hand. Put your finger here behind you ear. Do you feel that little space back there, the little spot between your ear and your neck? A space just big enough for your finger to fit in?"

"Yeah," said Coady.

"I'll tell you what," said Mom. "I'm going to fill that spot up with kisses and we will keep it full. That way, if you ever fall or get hurt and I'm not around, all you have to do is put your finger up there and grab a kiss. Put that kiss wherever your hurt is, and you will feel better. I promise..."

      A practice run shows that a retrieved kiss can, indeed, really have a healing effect, and, at bedtime, Coady's father adds some kisses to the reservoir behind Coady's other ear.

      The book's closing page provides an explanation of the book's origins. Jenn Zahavich died in March, 2011, after battling cancer for two years.

One afternoon when Jenn was driving home from a doctor's appointment, a story came through the sky and literally went right through her. She drove directly to her friend's house and asked for a piece of paper and a pen. She sat down at the kitchen table and wrote her story, word for word.

      After Jenn's death, her sister, Julie-Lynn, illustrated the text, and the family self-published the book. Unfortunately, like many self-published books, the text of Kisses for Later could have used tighter editing. For example, if I were reading the story to my grandchildren, I would stop my reading on p. 23, not on p. 25, the last text page, as the final sentence on p. 23 brings the story to its logical and loving conclusion. While Julie-Lynn is to be applauded for her illustration efforts, they are not of professional quality, especially in their portrayal of Coady, the central character. The intended young audience requires that Coady be illustrated in a consistent manner.

      Unfortunately, because of the book's editing and illustration flaws, I cannot recommend that Kisses for Later be an institutional purchase by school and public libraries. However, its contents are, nonetheless, most worth sharing, and I would encourage parents/grandparents and other adults to purchase their own copies to use one-on-one with the very young children in their lives. Having access to an endless reservoir of a parent's loving, healing kisses is a wonderful concept to carry through life.

      My hope for Kisses for Later is that, somehow, a copy of the book will fall into the hands of someone at one of Canada's children's book publishers, someone who will see the story's potential and then approach the Zahavich family with a proposal to re-edit and re-illustrate it.

Recommended with Reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, CM editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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