Name of Book: Everett Anderson’s Goodbye
Author: Lucille Clifton
Illustrator: Ann Grifalconi
Publisher: The Trumpet Club
Audience: 6-10 years
Summary: Everett Anderson’s father has died. Everett, who is an African American boy, appears to be five or six years old. He is experiencing the five stages of grief as described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. He experiences denial of the death, anger about the death, bargaining, depression, and finally after an undisclosed period of time—a kind of acceptance that his father has died. Everett’s mother quietly supports him, and lovingly holds him when he cries. She understands the strong emotions Everett is having in the midst of mourning the loss of his father. At the end of the story,Everett Anderson says, “I knew my daddy loved me through and through, and whatever happens when people die, love doesn’t stop, and neither will I.”
Literary elements at work in the story: Ann Grifalconi’s beautiful drawings show us Everett’s grief. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye is a Reading Rainbow Book, a 1984 Coretta Scott King Award winner, and a 1984 NCTE Teacher’s Choice. It is illustrated with chalk sketches using only the colors of black, gray, and white. This simple and small picture book of 17 pages opens the door for discussion about the grief and loss experienced by all children who have lost a parent, or beloved caregiver, whether they are African American or not.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make difference to the story? The story is specific in telling a story of an African American child. It was published in 1983, and recognized as an outstanding book when books were just beginning to be published about African American families in the United States.
Theological conversation partners: Everett says, “I knew my daddy loved me through and through…” We know that God loves us “through and through….” The words: “Love doesn’t stop” remind us of the everlasting love and power of God that never “stops.”
Faith Talk Questions:
- How does this story end?
- Have you ever been angry at someone who died?
- Do you know someone who has lost their father?
- What stories from the Bible show us that God’s love for us never stops?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Chris Feno.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.