After Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has Cancer, the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions. “Is Mom better yet?” Jeffrey asked. “Not yet,” she said. “But we’re working very hard to make her better-probably by pumpkin time.” That gave Janie an idea…the family plants a vegetable garden. As the garden grows, Mom’s treatment progresses…surgery, chemo, head-shaving and other side effects, radiation…and when it’s all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a healthy Mom!

by Janna Matthies (Author), Kristi Valiant (Illustrator)

Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 – 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 5
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080752994X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807529942
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-In January, Janie’s mom breaks the news that she has breast cancer. The doctor tells Janie and Jeffrey that she will probably be better by “pumpkin time,” so they decide to plant a garden as a symbol of health and hope. “Then before we know it….Hello, pumpkins, goodbye cancer!” The family members nurture the garden and one another, and by harvest time their hopes have been fulfilled. Smoothly told in a reassuringly matter-of-fact and understated way, this is less a story about cancer than about one family’s response to it. Details about the treatment and the woman’s physical reactions to it are worked in unobtrusively. The family and their supportive circle maintain a humorous and positive attitude, from the neighbors who crown Mom queen when they come over to serve her dinner to the uncle who buzz cuts her hair at the head-shaving party. Realistic emotions like her general sadness or Janie’s brother’s dismay at his mom’s baldness are included, but are downplayed. The sketchy illustrations are tender and sweet. After the first “breaking the news” scene, every page depicts grateful smiles and loving camaraderie. Outdoor scenes provide a feeling of fresh air and the healing of nature. An uplifting, hopeful story, well told and beautifully illustrated.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

An unexpectedly upbeat text and delicate illustrations distinguish this story based on the true experiences of a family’s journey through breast cancer treatment and recovery. The “goodbye cancer” garden of the title is the brainchild of the narrator, a daughter who suggests that nurturing healthy food and watching it grow will give the family hope that Mom will get better. How fortunate for this family that that is indeed the case. The stages of the mother’s treatment from operation to chemotherapy to radiation is mirrored by the progress of the garden. The book ends with a celebration and the promise of a healthy year to come. This is a relentlessly positive book that sometimes seems at odds with the severity of the subject matter. Still, its lack of any tension makes it an almost universally safe choice to recommend. Like Patricia Polacco’s The Lemonade Club (2007), it is a rare youth title about cancer that focuses on recovery rather than dealing only with loss. Grades 1-3. –Kara Dean

Review

“Smoothly told in a reassuringly matter-of-fact and understated way, this is less a story about cancer than about one family’s response to it… An uplifting, hopeful story, well told and beautifully illustrated.” – STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal

“An unexpectedly upbeat text and delicate illustrations distinguish this story based on the true experiences of a family’s journey through breast cancer treatment and recovery….it is a rare youth title about cancer that focuses on recovery rather than dealing only with loss.” – Booklist

“A family uses creativity and humor to cope with a mother’s breast cancer treatment in this heartening and informed story” – Publishers Weekly

From the Inside Flap

Throughout the course of Mom’s treatment for breast cancer, the family plans, plants, and harvests a garden to help motivate the recovery process.

About the Author

Jana Matthies is a published author of children’s books. A published credit of Jana Matthies is The Goodbye Cancer Garden.Kristi Valiant illustrated the following picture books: THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN (Albert Whitman & Co., March 2011), DO YOU LOVE ME MORE? (Standard Publishing, Jan 2011), OLIVER’S FIRST CHRISTMAS (Accord/Andrews McMeel, Oct 2010), DANCING DREAMS (Accord/Andrews McMeel, Sept 2010), and CORA COOKS PANCIT (Shen’s Books, 2009). Her illustrations can also be found in Highlights Magazine. Her picture book, CORA COOKS PANCIT, won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, made the Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, and made The Cooperative Children’s Book Center top children’s book picks for 2010.Kristi is the Indiana Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She graduated magna cum laude from Columbus College of Art & Design with a major in Illustration. She grew up in Wisconsin, studied in Ohio, moved to Texas, spent a summer in China, and now lives in Indiana with her husband and daughter. Some of her favorite things in life are her family and friends, mochas, coconut cupcakes, collecting picture books, reading, swing dancing, musicals (especially Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers/Gene Kelly type ones), monkeys, penguins, mind-puzzle video games, and her faith in Jesus. Website: www.kristivaliant.com Blog: http://kristivaliant.blogspot.com


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Janna Matthies

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