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Midwest Book Review

Am I Like My Daddy
Marcy Blesy, author
Amy Kuhl Cox, illustrator

Denise Perry Donavin

Hilarious and poignant is Blesy's picturebook about 7 year old Grace who launches a search through conversation and journaling to discover "Am I Like my Daddy?" Chats with her mom and grandmother evoke amusing anecdotes and heart-lifting similarities while an aunt still cannot speak of her brother's death. The tale is based on the author's own search for family similarities and history after the death of her own father and on Blesy's experiences as a teacher and a volunteer at Lory's Place, a grief education and support center for children and families.

Cox's stained-glass watercolor images add a lightness to the somber moments and illumine Grace's indomitable spirit. The father is haunting as a silhouette, but this allows young readers to fill in their own images of a parent they are searching for. The illustrator notes that she added "physical artifacts from her father (to) surround Grace" and lend ongoing intrigue to each picture.

Grace's journey will guide other kids and families into discoveries of their own whether members are separated by death, geography, or emotional distance. A not-to-be-missed opportunity for family sharing or classroom projects on family life.

Midwest Book Reivew, 13.1, January 2013 <> Customer Reviews

Children Grief Book, January 3, 2013

By Marcia Cox (VIRGINIA, IL, US

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

I loved this wonderful children's book!! The story of dealing with grief was touching and illustrations were wonderfu! Kudos to the author and illustrator!!

Comfort for Children Dealing with the Loss of a Parent or Loved One, January 1, 2013

By Richard R. Blake (Bridgman, Michigan)

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

Marcy Blesy draws from her own childhood loss of a parent as she tells the story of seven year old Grace in her book "Am I Like My Daddy?" Grace is learning to cope with the loss of her father by expressing her feelings of grief through journaling, by learning how others deal with grief, and by asking questions about her Daddy in hopes of discovering more about who she is in the present.

Amy M. Kuhl Cox skillfully captures the essence of Marcy's intent through magnificent colorful illustrations depicting Grace's Mom providing physical contact, taking time to answer Grace's questions truthfully, and helping Grace express her feelings through verbal expression orally as well as through a journal. Conversations with her aunt and grandmother help Grace understand that people deal with grief differently.

The narrative, illustrations, journal entries, questions, and responses all offer natural opportunities for adults and children to dialog openly about the feelings experienced by the child throughout the various stages of grief.

The recent multiple funerals of the young victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut bring questions of how to help children cope with grief to a whole new level as counselors respond to the emotions of grief to the victim's young siblings and their classmates.

Marcy Blesy's "Am I Like My Daddy?" looks at grief from a different perspective, yet many of the same issues are applicable to any child dealing with grief. Grace's search for comfort, her confusion in expressing the feeling of grief, and loneness all come to light in her story as she wrestles with these issues in a search for answers.

Am I Like My Daddy? offers comfort to the child who has lost a parent or loved one through death.

Highly Recommended, December 31, 2012

By Elaine C. Stephens

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

As a former public school educator and now a facilitator at a grief and healing center for children and their families, I interact with children struggling to cope with the death of a parent or other significant person in their lives. High quality children's literature provides these children with rich resources for understanding and managing their feelings. It gives them language and images for powerful emotions that often seem inexplicable. It reassures them that they are not weird or strange and that they are not alone. One of the finest examples of this literature is Marcy Blesy's new book, Am I Like My Daddy?, with its evocative illustrations by Amy Kuhl Cox. Part of its strength comes from the author's own experiences in her early teens with the death of her father. Its timeless message will resonate with people of all ages and in a variety of situations involving loss. It also is a practical book with helpful suggestions for learning more about a loved one. I highly recommend Am I Like My Daddy? as a gift or for your own library.

Heartfelt writing, December 29, 2012

By Nichole Stewart

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

This book was great in depicting loss through the mind of a child. I read it to both of my children and saw how they truly thought about the way the character felt in the story.This book is a wonderful tool in helping a child who is dealing with the death of a loved one, or any kind of loss. Praise for "Am I Like My Daddy?"!

Builds happy memories, December 17, 2012

By word woman

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

When Grace's teacher announces that her second grade students must write about a special person, Grace wants to share her memories about her deceased father. But Grace's memories of him have faded in the two years since his death. Grace asks her Mother and Grandmother to share stories and reminisces of him with her. Grace savors their tales of how he liked to laugh and loved chocolate, was impulsive, and had dark eyes--just like her--and uses these facts as the foundation for a poem she writes about him.

Blesy's book forms a bridge to conversations not only about family members who are deceased but also those who are physically or emotionally distant. It offers a productive means--journaling--to manage the resulting emotions. A list of possible activities at the back of the book offers further suggestions for dealing with these issues and the emotions they produce.

An affirming, loving yet practical book!, December 10, 2012

By Esther Hershenhorn

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

Finally, a book that offers children within the confines of a beautifully-told story a concrete model for learning how to cope with loss, especially a long-ago loss that still leaves a hole in a child's heart. Marcy Blesy's Grace is a real-and-true character with real-and-true feelings on a child-appropriate quest to learn just who her Daddy was and what they might share. Journaling, interviewing friends and family, remembering shared experiences, watching videos, writing poetry - all help Grace cope as she comes to know her father. Amy M. Kuhl Cox' images bring Grace to the page, making the reader care even more.

Hurrah for Marcy Blesy for bringing children this affirming, loving yet practical book!

Am I Like My Daddy?, December 9, 2012

By Italicat (Michigan, USA)

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

Marcy Blesy's 'Am I Like My Daddy?' is a powerful tale of a child's search for answers about the loss of a parent. Loss is no easy topic to discuss with children, but seven- year-old Grace serves as a relatable character for both kids AND adults. Blesy's realistic dialogue and Cox's beautiful illustrations allow the reader to easily put themselves in Grace's shoes. A wonderful find! Now, when can we expect to have a companion copy of 'Am I Like Mommy?'

Am I Like My Daddy?, December 9, 2012

By ZsaZsa
This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

The illustrations are beautiful and the story is an outreach to kiddos that have lost a parent. This book could be a way to reach a child that has had this same question but has never verbalized it. A heartful story and well written!

Wonderful children's grief book, December 7, 2012

By Keri Haskins "School Counselor, MA"

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

I am a School Counselor, and was very pleased to see a book that reaches this often forgotten group-children who have suffered losses in their lives.

What is so unique about this book is that it focuses on a child who has not recently lost a parent, but is instead reflecting back on the past loss of her father. Many children go through their grief journeys differently and continue to wonder about their lost loved ones throughout their lives. This book validates their curiosity and questions, in asking "Am I like my Daddy?" in a hopeful and beautiful way.

When I facilitate grief counseling with students, I remind them that we never have to "get over" our losses, or "get over" our loved ones. Instead, we work through the grief, in our own unique ways and experiences. This book can be instrumental in helping children with their own grief journeys.

Healing, December 1, 2012

By Angela Ales

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

Am I Like My Daddy? is powerful and healing. This story offers a fresh perspective on the grieving process through the eyes of a child. I believe it will inspire many wonderful conversations with its well-written text and beautiful illustrations.

Enchanting!, December 1, 2012

By DDonavin

This review is from: Am I Like My Daddy? (Paperback)

Grace's journey to learn about her deceased father through family chats, old home movies, and his book collection is heart warming and, even, hilarious at times. The book illuminates, especially via Cox's lovely stained-glass illustrations, family connections, how to create and sustain them through loss and seperation. A great read-aloud and conversation starter for parents and grandparents.


South Bend Tribune Book Review

Book helps kids with parent's death

South Bend Tribune
December 21, 2012

Marcy Blesy says the idea for the book “Am I Like My Daddy?” came to her while attending a birthday party for her uncle.

Blesy, who runs the library at Stewart Elementary School in Stevensville, says her uncle commented on how much Blesy’s sister reminded him of her father. Blesy’s father died when the author was 13 years old.

She says the comment is made every day by family members and other relatives.

“One of my kids is more like me and one kid is more like my husband,” Blesy says.

Still, she recalls feeling a twinge of resentment upon hearing the comment.

“In my own mind, I was having a temper tantrum,” she says. “I was like, ‘What do you mean she was like my dad? How come she’s like my dad and I’m not like my dad? I want to be like my dad.’ ”

The incident made Blesy wonder how children who lose parents at a young age might respond to such a comment.

Blesy transformed that question into the book “Am I Like My Daddy?” It’s beautifully illustrated by North Carolina-based artist Amy M. Kuhl Cox.

The children’s book tells the story of a 7-year-old girl named Grace who wants to do a classroom writing assignment about her father, who died two years earlier.

Grace asks her mother for facts about her father. Her mother also encourages Grace to talk to other close relatives. Some of Grace’s relatives freely share information.

Grace’s grandmother tells Grace that her father’s favorite children’s book was “James and the Giant Peach.” Grace’s mother pulls out a home video, and the girl learns that she has brown hair and eyes, just like her father.

The pain is too fresh for her aunt, who still cannot talk about her brother. Others, still dealing with their grief, are unable to help Grace.

Still, the book has a positive message. Children learn that people grieve differently and at their own pace. They also see that asking questions is a way to learn about loved ones who have passed away, as well as a way to deal with grief.

Blesy, who volunteers at Lory’s Place, a center that helps people deal with grief, says books that address this topic usually focus on the days and months after the death of a loved one as the starting point.

“This book focuses on a few years later when a child’s memory and even an adult’s memory is going to fade a little bit,” she says. “It lets a child know that it’s normal not to remember everything and there are ways to go about filling in some of those incomplete memories.”

Blesy says children and adults often need to talk. However, both sometime avoid broaching topics that surviving parents and children may find painful.

“What happens so often is that there have been years that have passed since a loved one died and the adults think that if the kid is not talking about it that they must be OK and they don’t want to upset them,” she says. “And the child may be thinking, ‘Oh, I want to ask questions, but I don’t want to upset the adult in my life.’ ”

Blesy says she hopes that “Am I Like My Daddy?” will find its way onto the book shelves of grief counseling centers, school psychologists and social workers, and public libraries.

“To me, the most important thing about this book is that it will open dialogue between the surviving adult and child.”

Staff writer Howard Dukes: 574-235-6369

Copyright © 2012, South Bend Tribune



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