Tag Archives: the scar

the bathing costume or the worst vacation of my life

thebathingcostumeThe Bathing Costume: Or the Worst Vacation of My Life by Charlotte Moundlic and Olivier Tallec.


This comes from the pair that created The Scar, a beautiful, brilliant book (which I’ve featured here). But that one’s a sad book. This one is also beautiful but without the sadness. Instead, you might say it has a dose of melancholy. But it’s also funny. Quirky. Charming. Real.




click image(s) to enlarge

It’s for the older set because the main character is eight and the text is lengthier than most. But also because a kid, a growing up kid, will really relate to this diary of a failed (then won!) summer vacation.

(See how those brilliant summer blues and yellows gleam from the pages?)


The whole book is written matter of factly. The way Myron might really narrate things.

Myron’s a bit behind. He hasn’t lost a baby tooth yet and he’s ripe for teasing. His vacation will be without his parents and brother, at his grandparents’ house with cousins.


“Grandma asked me if I was happy and I muttered, ‘Yes…Yeah, sure…’ What else could I say? I didn’t want to tell her that I was about to have the worst vacation of my whole life.”

And then there’s the bathing costume of the title. (That’s what Myron’s grandmother calls it.)

“This summer I’m eight. And in the family, the summer when you’re eight is the summer when you have to jump off the 10-foot diving board.”


The poor kid only has his older brother’s yellow bathing suit, so the thing hangs off him like crazy at the city pool. He has to hold it up and there’s a moment when his bare bottom’s in the air.  And that high dive? So not happening. What child (or grown up) can’t relate to this story?


Not to worry though. There’s change ahead. (Sadly, not in the form of a new bathing suit.) The power goes out one night and relationships shift. The family heads back to the swimming pool. One of Myron’s teeth gets very, very loose! And he walks up the ladder to the high dive. I’ll let you guess what happens next.


The last diary-like entry is the opposite of the first one. The way some camp or vacation diary-entries really are about-faces. The lucky ones. When worst vacations turn into the best.

picture books on loss

While I love the joy of picture books, I also like the sad ones. The simple, straight to the heart ones about life and loss and heartbreak. Like these three.


Rabbityness by Jo Empson. On losing a friend.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Erik Blegvad. On losing a pet.

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic, illustrated by Olivier Tallec. On losing a parent.



First, Jo Empson‘s exquisite, exuberant illustrations. Second, a rabbit who likes both rabbity things and non-rabbity things (like painting and music-making). Then, the rabbit disappears.


The woods go from exuberant to gray and sad and lonely. Until. Until! Until the other rabbits discover the gifts the other rabbit left them.


Final Rabbityness 4 & 5



Final Rabbityness 10 & 11


Final Rabbityness 18 & 19


Final Rabbityness 22-23

Thanks to Jo Empson for the images.


It’s as though loss isn’t even the subject of this book, the way it touches it so gently. But it is. Because when we begin this book we have no idea we’re going to lose this rabbit we’ve just been so charmed by. But we will. And we’ll be okay. We’ll even paint and make music thanks to him.




140185The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

“My cat Barney died last Friday. I was very sad,” the boy tells us in the first lines of this one from 1971.

Who wouldn’t be sad? I love how this book offers a great coping mechanism: remembering the good. The boy’s mom tells him to think of ten good things about Barney the cat. At the funeral, he  recites nine.

After talking to his dad and his friend, the boy thinks of a tenth. And the tenth is about Barney in the present, in the backyard. The tenth one is acceptance.




11449551The Scar

Boy is this one heartbreaking. But it’s also told  honestly and beautifully and even, at moments, with humor. Even so, there’s no getting around that this is a story of a boy  who loses his mom. The first line is a bit of a shock: “Mom died this morning.”

The special perfect part of this book (aside from Olivier Tallec’s red and white and black drawings) is the boy. The way he assumes that with his Mom gone, he has to take care of things and take care of his dad. He feels this great responsibility that shows his empathy, his grief, and the way he’s avoiding his own sadness.






THE SCAR. Original text and artwork copyright © Père Castor/Éditions Flammarion, 2009. Translation copyright © 2011 Candlewick Press. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Flammarion Jeunesse.


This book could be helpful if a child has lost someone or if they know someone who’s lost someone. It’s fiery, red, difficult subject matter, but it tells us that we’ll all bleed. And that we’ll wear the scars.


And on a bit lighter note, I give you my series on books to overcome the doldrums for a dash of hope!