Monday, December 19, 2011

The Hundred Penny Box

by Sharon Bell Mathis
illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon
New York : Puffin Books, 1986.

Michael's great-aunt Dew is one hundred years old, and has a box in which she keeps pennies - one for every year of her life. Michael's mother wants to get rid of it, but Michael realizes the importance of the memories that make Aunt Dew the special woman she is.

This is more of a short story than a picture book. It is 47 pages long, and heavier on text than illustration. The illustrations are sepia-toned and quite striking; I kept thinking this sort of story would have been perfect during my early elementary years, that transition between books with pictures on every page and chapter books with almost none at all. Though it is short, this is a well-told story with characters that you really sympathize with. Even Michael's mother, Ruth, though she wants to discard the box, has taken her husband's aunt in and wants what is best for her, even if she and Michael - and Aunt Dew herself - don't agree on what "best" is. A realistic portrayal of a close family and a woman growing older and less independent.

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