My father's words

Patricia MacLachlan

Book - 2018

"Declan O'Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was Dona Nobis Pacem, 'Grant Us Peace.' His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return. but a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O'Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief... Perha...ps with time, patience, and their father's gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more." --

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Subjects
Genres
Fiction
Published
New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2018]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
135 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 8-12.
ISBN
9780062687692
0062687697
Main Author
Patricia MacLachlan (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Newbery-medalist MacLachlan is known for writing heart-tugging stories in spare style, as she did in Sarah, Plain and Tall? (1985). And that's what she does here as readers meet Fiona and Finn and, briefly, their psychologist father. But before the first chapter ends, Declan O'Brien is dead, hit by a truck as he swerved to avoid a toddler in the street. The family attempts to right itself, with Mrs. O'Brien continuing her course work and Fiona trying to fill in. But Finn is struggling. Thomas, a patient of Dr. O'Brien, asks if he can call Fiona for 10 minutes each week and tell her something about her father. It's Thomas who suggests Finn find someone or something to help, and it's next-door neighbor Luke who takes them to volunteer at the animal shelter. Finn's special charge is Emily, a dog whose owner has died. He takes it upon himself to figure out what Emily needs and where she belongs, and in saving Emily, he begins to save himself. None of these children seem much like real kids. In word or deed, all display wisdom far beyond their years, and Dr. O'Brien is perfection personified. Yet there's nothing cloying here, nor does this purity affect the story's emotion or the way it connects to readers. Instead, it testifies to the resilience of life. Deeply moving and uplifting in unexpected ways. Grades 4-6. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Key relationships in her own life inspired this characteristically taut and resonant novel by Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall). Life as Fiona has known and loved it comes to a screeching halt over runny eggs one morning when Fiona's psychologist father—her guiding light, singer of "Dona Nobis Pacem" and player of driveway basketball—dies in a car accident after swerving to avoid hitting a child. Since her overwhelmed mother has been pursuing a degree, it falls to Fiona to keep her suddenly withdrawn younger brother, Finn (and herself), afloat over the summer. She receives rock-solid help from Luke, a remarkably intuitive neighbor; Emma, the rescue dog to whom Finn reads and sings at the local shelter; and one of her father's former patients, who pays the doctor's kindness forward by calling Fiona for two minutes each week and passing on her dad's indelible sayings ("Let the whole thing float down the river on a little boat"). MacLachlan masterfully mingles core themes in this slim volume: the power of words and song, memories and family, the mutually redemptive human-canine bond, and "the eternal fitness of things." Ages 8–12. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–5—Fiona O'Brien and her brother, Finn, have a wonderful family in a home filled with love and humor. All that changes when their father, Declan, is killed in an automobile crash after he swerves to miss a child chasing a ball in the street. Fiona writes, "The days move slowly. Nights, too." With their mother returning to classes, Fiona takes responsibility for her little brother and tasks herself with finding ways to make Finn feel better. The answer comes via a notice from a local animal shelter that is looking for volunteers to help care for abandoned dogs. Fiona, Finn, and their friend Luke begin working there. Luke and Fiona walk the dogs while Finn reads to a depressed pup whose owner recently died. Slowly, Fiona and Finn find peace. The story's first-person narration by Fiona offers an immediate connection to readers, and sections of the book in a different typeface and font highlight her own personal reflections that are apart from the plot, which lends a solid authenticity to the gently flowing story. VERDICT This heartwarming title from an acclaimed author is a solid choice for school and public libraries seeking new bibliotherapy titles for children on loss and grief.—Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Struggling with the loss of their father, Fiona and Finn O'Brien, at the suggestion of a friend, volunteer at a local animal rescue shelter.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Two children find comfort working at a rescue shelter for dogs as they search for ways to cope after their father's sudden death. By the Newbery Medal-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Patricia MacLachlan, beloved author of the Newbery Medal-winning Sarah, Plain and Tall, has crafted another lyrical and touching novel for young readers about finding hope after the loss of a loved one. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom. Declan O'Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem," 'Grant Us Peace.' His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O'Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father's gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more.* Junior Library Guild Selection * Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year 2019 (9-12) *

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Patricia MacLachlan, beloved author of the Newbery Medal-winning Sarah, Plain and Tall, has crafted another lyrical and touching novel for young readers about finding hope after the loss of a loved one. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

Declan O’Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem," “Grant Us Peace.” His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.

But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O’Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?

At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father’s gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more.

* Junior Library Guild Selection * Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year 2019 (9-12) *