20 December 2020 THINGS THAT GO AWAY by Beatrice Alemagna, Abrams, March 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-4197-4482-2


“Though I know I’ll never lose affection

For people and things that went before

I know I’ll often stop and think about them”

-- Lennon & McCartney, “In My Life” (1965)


The Beatles were something that went away. 


For Christmas ‘65, I got a record player and a copy of the Rubber Soul album. I was ten that year and, man, was I in heaven! The Beatles were my world. But then they stopped making music together and, later, John Lennon was killed. Those were some of my early lessons in the inevitability of change. 


But THINGS THAT GO AWAY, a picture book by Beatrice Alemagn is not about big, heavy, newsworthy changes. It is more about personal moments in which special little things come and go. Moments of magic. Like a bird alighting on a finger before moving on. Or a passing night of sleep from which one awakens.


“Music flies away.

Soap bubbles, too.

One day lice (luckily)

will also leave.

Dark thoughts fade,

just like tears dry,

and the steam from a cup evaporates.

Bad weather goes away,

and so does fear.”


The text is a powerful, upbeat, and very clever meditation on things that come and then go away. The unusual book employs semi-opaque, see-through pages, which alternate with the regular pages. This permits depiction of change on each page of the story. For instance, a boy has a scraped knee. Then you turn the see-through page, and the scrape goes away.


The tale concludes on a sweet, positive note.


The illustrations are full of kids, critters, and fun folk who are either witness to a change or are personally changing. Young audiences will love getting their hands on the book and replaying how the changes take place as the see-through pages are moved back and forth. Even I got a kick out of it.


Fun and thought provoking, this book is a good reminder to pay attention and relish the moments that are sometimes all too easy to overlook.


Richie Partington, MLIS

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