Empty and Me
By School Library Journal
This bilingual picture book tells a tale of grief. Upon the death of her mother, a fair-skinned young girl is joined by a large soft being called Empty. Empty travels through life as the girl’s friend and is with her everywhere, from school to an amusement park. As hope begins to grow in the form of a plant, the girl is able to find more joy in her life that she can share with Empty, her rescued kitten, and her father. Empty’s role in the girl’s life helps her move through the world of grief and plant a new beginning. The sepia and gray-toned images, although digitally rendered, mimic colored pencils and set a solemn tone that reinforces the girl’s loneliness in a vast world without her mom. The character of Empty is soft curves and bright white, the perfect complement for the sharp edges of loss. Additional characters are diverse in nature and scenes are generic, which helps to support the universal theme and build connections for readers. VERDICT A strong purchase to introduce loss and, not incidentally, expose students to translated works.