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In Abby’s Hands

by Wendy A. Lewis, Marilyn Mets & Peter Ledwon, illus.

In Abby’s Hands is a poignant story about a young girl and her pregnant dog, by Toronto area author Wendy A. Lewis. Abby, who is still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother, bites her nails and is “afraid of making a mistake.” She feels safe only when she sits under the lace-covered table with Opal, her yellow Lab. When Grandpa Jack hurts his leg and Abby’s mother has to take him to the hospital, Abby is left behind with her dog. When the dog goes into labour, Abby has to cope, and discovers her courage and inner strength.

This book, which deals with the challenging concepts of birth and death in a manner that’s natural and respectful, is expertly crafted. From the first page, the reader is drawn into Abby’s world and feels her fears. The storyline flows smoothly through to its satisfying conclusion.

What makes the book highly unusual are its illustrations. Using photographs, computer manipulation, and three-dimensional modelling programs, Marilyn Mets and Peter Ledwon have created illustrations that are largely indistinguishable from traditional paintings. Throughout the book, these computer paintings illuminate the story and enhance the tender mood. On some pages, however, the photos have not been manipulated as much and seem strangely out of sync with the rest of the book. The mood on these pages is more humorous than tender, and oddly discordant. Nevertheless, the overall quality of the illustrations is superb.

Parents and teachers who want to help children understand the cycle of life or who enjoy a well-written story will want to add this top-quality picture book to their collection.