Children’s books tackle the tough subjects of handling bullies and grief

By David Steinberg / For The Journal.

Two children’s books out this month deal with issues of importance to young readers, and, no less, to adults. . . .“Evan and the Skygoats” [is] written by Vanessa Vassar and illustrated by Ophelia Cornet, longtime Albuquerque friends.

The story centers on how young Evan grieves over a loss ——the death of his elder sister, Sky. Evan hugs the trees because “that made everything feel better.” His mom said Evan doesn’t have to see her to feel her presence. She tells him that she and Evan’s dad won’t float away; only their thoughts did when they were grieving.

“Evan understood because sometimes his thoughts did, too,” the author writes. His parents assured Evan that they’d always be there for him.

The family accepts an offer of three baby goats. Feeding and playing with them assuages the family’s grieving. And it helps dad and son bond; they sit in a treehouse gazing at the constellations, one of them Capricornus, a goat with a fish tail. Evan flies up with the now-winged goats. Aiding Evan’s flying is his father’s cowboy boots, now transformed into goat boy boots. Soon the boots transform into goat hoofs. They meet magical creatures (constellations) such as Cygnus the Swan and Taurus the Bull.

The book is based on real-life loss, grief and emotional healing the author and her family experienced. Vassar’s daughter, Sky Velvet, died at age 13 of complications from appendicitis.

“It was very unexpected. When she passed away, she was my only child. I felt my entire world had disappeared,” Vassar said. . . . >> READ more at the ABQ JOURNAL