Lifting the Spirits of a Chronically Ill Child

Today is Friday – I have another children’s book to review to add to the  Perfect Picture Book resource list that author Susanna Leonard Hill is building on her blog. If you go to Susanna’s blog today, you will not find a picture book review because there is a 4th of July Holiday Mystery Writing Contest going on. There are two dozen fabulous stories linked up there…I hope you will visit and read them and return to vote for your favorite!

My picture book pick today is another treasure (just shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award) by gifted author and anti-bullying advocate Susanne Gervay. I met her in Singapore at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. When she heard I had not gotten a copy yet, she graciously and generously sent me one…with the adorable little Gracie doll…all the way from Australia!

Book Review and Activity: Gracie and Josh

Gracie and Josh

Written by Susanne Gervay

Illustrated by Serena Geddes

Publisher: Ford Street Publishers – Melbourne, Australia (2013)

Ages: 4 and up


Siblings, illness, family support, hope, positive attitude

Opening Lines:

“My name is Gracie. Today I’m a squiggly black spider.”


A young boy is critically ill and his sister tries to stay positive and upbeat to lift his spirits. In the hospital, the siblings entertain the other children in the ward by filming a movie. In the author’s words, ‘Gracie and Josh is a story about life and living – milking every drop from every minute we are given’.

Why  I like this book:

  • Great read-aloud for younger children…older kids will enjoy reading it themselves
  • Wonderful message of hope, positivity and family togetherness
  • Fun illustrations
  • I met the author, child advocate and RA of Australia’s SCBWI chapter, Susanne Gervay, at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore. Her presentation, Writing to Make a Better World, encouraged writers to share important messages that can make a difference.

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud…Susanne uses the popular Eency, Weency Spider as part of her narrative.
  • Opportunity for discussion about illness, hospitalization and having a positive attitude
  • Even children can have a ‘bucket list’…ask your child what are the things he or she would love to do…in the next week, month, year.

Related Activities:


Book Review and Activity: Gracie and Josh

Photo courtesy: You will find complete instructions there (pretty simple…color the plate with black marker or crayons, glue on construction paper legs, eyes and mouth, punch a hole at the top and thread a piece of yarn or string through it)

For more information about Susanne:

For picture book writing tips from Susanne:

To connect with Susanne Gervay: Facebook, Twitter or her blog.

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