My name is Gracie
Today, I’m a squiggly black spider.
My brother Josh helps me make my spider legs
They look like fat sausages.
Josh gives me his woolly black beanie.
His favourite one has green stripes.
Gracie makes a spider costume with the assistance of her older brother, Josh. He’s happy to share one of his beanies, and today he wears his favourite one. Together the pair play. Gracie acts and sings, and Josh captures it for his film. Shooting a film takes some time and the reader follows the pair through the days and weeks as Josh captures footage for his film. There are good and bad weeks as Josh battles cancer and has a visit to hospital. There are appointments to do with his treatment, and every day events like visiting the dentist and attending school. And then there is the grand premiere of their film. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour set in plenty of white space. There are dark days when Josh’s is less well, and brightness when they can temporarily put aside their worries in the joy of living each day.
Gracie and Josh is the story of making a film, with Gracie on stage, and Josh recording her antics. It is a portrait of normal things in a time of great challenge, as Josh and his family do what they can to fight his illness. Gracie’s observations are simple and direct as they reflect their life, and the passage of time is marked by Josh’s ups and downs. ‘Gracie and Josh’ seems simple but the depiction of family is powerful without any glossing over of the seriousness of Josh’s illness. It is a moving story of love and laughter, written and illustrated with realistic and delicate style. Recommended for early primary readers and any family who may be experiencing the trauma of serious illness.
Gracie and Josh, Susanne Gervay ill Serena Geddes Ford Street Publishing 2013 ISBN: 9781921665851
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author