Aunt Mary’s Rose tells the tale of one family through the generations, the author’s family, in fact: A young Douglas is staring at the rosebush in his aunt’s backyard, wondering what his Aunt Mary meant when she instructed him to take care of it, that “one day there will be a little bit of you inside of it. And a little bit of the rose inside of you.” Aunt Mary eventually explains how she once took care of the rosebush as a child after her daddy instructed her to; how she raised her nephews (including Douglas’s father), who in turn took care of the rosebush after their Grandpa died; and on and on. Through the Depression, war, and great loss, the rosebush thrives, the family always nurturing it, their family legacy living through it. This is one of your nostalgic picture books — a well-done one, not too heavy on the syrup, providing a good introduction to rural farm life during the ’30s and ’40s (as the School Library Journal review points out). Or even, as Kirkus points out, children may be prompted to ask their own grandparents about their lives after taking this one in.
LeUyen’s art for this one, occasionally rendered to look like old sepia-toned photographs, is tender and sweet. At times, it’s quite moving. Her rosebush endpapers are worth the price of admission alone. Below are a couple spreads and a sketch from LeUyen. Enjoy the quick picture-book art stop.
AUNT MARY’S ROSE. Copyright © 2010 by Douglas Wood. Illustrations © 2010 by LeUyen Pham. Published by Candlewick Press. Images reproduced by permission of the illustrator.