cover image Henry and Bea

Henry and Bea

Jessixa Bagley. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4284-3

Bagley (Vincent Comes Home) once again conveys her deep understanding of the ways children process loss and her deep respect for their capacity to regain resilience. “It’s always lucky to find someone who understands you,” she begins, introducing the best friends of the title and instantly forging a connection with readers. When Henry sequesters himself with no explanation, Bea’s first response is to think she caused the breach; she gives him his space, though “it was hard on Bea. She missed her friend.” On a class field trip, Bea finds Henry alone in a quiet barn, where he finally reveals what’s wrong: his beloved cat Buddy died the previous week. Bea acknowledges Henry’s pain (“It’s hard to lose a friend,” she says, an echo of what she had feared for herself), and helps him to say goodbye—and when Bea and Henry rejoin the class after a modest but meaningful ritual, she knows to respect his privacy, saying nothing. Even when the story is at its most emotionally fraught, Bagley’s direct slice-of-life watercolors and text anchor her characters in the world, offering reassurance and affirmation to the story and to readers. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (Oct.) [/em]