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Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite
Woulda Been by Penny Ledbetter is an illustrated children’s book dealing with social issues. Hardworking, the patriarch of his tight-knit family, everyone misses him when Paw passes away. But Jess misses him the most. Every time he sees Paw’s boots, he thinks about him. Jess thinks about how it woulda been working on the farm, helping to get their new calf, Boots, ready for the county fair. Jess misses him most on his 10th birthday when Paw woulda helped him blow the candles out. It woulda been Paw’s 78th birthday and Jess and his family decide that they must celebrate it in the best possible way. This is the story of how Jess overcame his grief by learning how to remember and give back, together with the rest of the community.
Woulda Been by Penny Ledbetter is a wonderful story that I must confess brought a tear to my eye. It’s a story of moving on after death, of how to accept death and learn to remember our loved ones in a way that helps us to take another step each day. And it’s a story of giving something back to others. The illustrations are wonderful, colorful, and add a whole new dimension to the story. The writing is clear, simple to understand, and explains the concepts of death, grief, and remembrance in a way that children will understand and learn from. You can't help but be moved by the story and the message about giving something back could teach a lot of adults a thing or two as well, not just the kids. Great story, written very well for its audience, and is a book I think every parent should have for their child; perhaps every school library too.