Published by Orchard Books on December 7, 2021
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A healing story of loss and love, this beautiful picture book reminds us that the people who mean the most to us are always with us.
Charlie loves to dance her way through life with her grandma. They may not always be together, but each time they part Grandma says, "If you miss me, look at the moon." Then winter brings unexpected change, and not even dancing feels the same. What will Charlie do? Will Grandma come to see her dance again? In the biggest show of the year, Charlie finds her answer. This tender exploration of loss from debut author-illustrator Jocelyn Li Langrand illuminates the boundless power of love to help and heal.
If You Miss Me is the story of a little girl who moves away from her grandma. They did so many things together, dancing especially, but then Charlie had to move to the city. Her grandma tells her “If you miss me, look at the moon. I will do the same.”
Sometimes grandma visits. Sometimes she talks on the phone. But then, grandma passes away. I had a feeling the book was moving that direction and still a wave of emotion swept over me when I turned the page. I was drawn to the book because my family recently moved away from my parents and—as my son is enamored with the moon—I thought it might be a connection point. I didn’t know the grandma was going to die and rip my heart out in the process.
If You Miss Me lovingly and tenderly looks at the loss of a much more permanent move. Dancing just doesn’t feel the same. But the moon still reminds her of her grandma and gives her the encouragement to carry on. When Charlie saw the moon, she saw Grandma, too.
For many children, the death of a grandparent can be their earliest, big loss. I was fortunate enough that all of my grandparents lived until I was an adult and even then the losses cut deep. Suffering that kind of loss as a child isn’t guaranteed but neither is it uncommon. Jocelyn Li Langrand tenderly and beautifully captures the depth of that loss while providing young ones a reminder that there is something of that relationship that endures.
Langrand also provides the illustrations, ensuring that the artistry of the page and the artistry of the words are in perfect sync, dancing across the page. It’s also worth noting that Li Langrand is of Chinese descent and the main character, Charlie, appears Asian as well. Asian characters are really under-represented in children’s literature (except where there’s an overtly Asian story) and it’s great just to see that representation.
If You Miss Me is heart-warming and heart-rending all at once. It’s a beautiful book.