Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remembering Mrs Rossi by Amy Hest

Our lives are filled with a range of emotions from happiness to sadness and this is why I do not mind occasionally reading a very sad book. Think of Sarah Plain and Tall, The Naming of Tishkin Silk, I’ll always love you and The Colour of Home as examples that came quickly into my mind.

You can probably guess from the title alone - Remembering Mrs Rossi - that this will be a sad story. Mrs Rossi is Annie’s mum, Professor Rossi’s wife and the teacher of Grade 5 and 6, especially the kids in Room 222, at the Louis Armstrong School.

Annie and her family have a lovely life of routines, summer holidays and heaps of love but one day quite suddenly Mrs Rossi dies. This is the story of Annie and her dad grieving, finding each other and about balancing their new routines. Through all of this the greatest comfort of all for Annie is a book made by the students of Room 222. You can read their whole book (with a box of tissues) at the end of the story.

“I’m supposed to say it was Mr Shaw who thought up the idea to make a book about our teacher … but if you want to know who did all the work... we did. That’s right, the kids are the authors…. (and) after all the hard work we’re not even keeping our book. We’re giving it away!”

“Annie opens her book for the hundredth time – no, thousandth – time! She reads slowly. Silently. Quietly turning the pages. … Twenty-four stories and twenty-four best authors! … I read and read. It’s like giving my mother a kiss good-night. And she is giving me a big kiss too.”

This is just one of those little books that will probably be lost over time (although I did find quite a lot written about it on the internet) but if you do discover this book you will be rewarded with a gentle and emotional story told in an honest voice by a young narrator.  Here are some teacher notes.  One more thing.  I have been pondering how I came to read this book. I have joined my local public library and as I browsed the shelves I found Remembering Mrs Rossi.  It appealled to me because I knew the author, it was a hard cover book and I liked the gentle pastel coloured cover. I wonder what might make a young reader pick up this book?  I fear it might languish on the shelves because young readers might not know this author, might prefer paperback books and they might not find the cover very exciting.  How lucky for me that I picked up this book so now you might discover it too!

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