When Fiona’s father dies, she and her 5-year-old brother struggle to find meaning in the family’s new life without him. But help soon comes from unexpected places, guiding them to move forward and heal by rediscovering the wisdom their father had imparted to them long ago. A sweet and gentle story!
— Linda Then
Patricia MacLachlan, beloved author of the Newbery Medal-winning Sarah, Plain and Tall, has crafted another lyrical and touching novel for young readers about finding hope after the loss of a loved one.
Declan O’Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem," “Grant Us Peace.” His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.
But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O’Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?
At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father’s gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more.
* Junior Library Guild Selection *Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year 2019 (9-12) *
About the Author
Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless novels for young readers, including Newbery Medal winner Sarah, Plain and Tall; Word After Word After Word; Kindred Souls; The Truth of Me; The Poet’s Dog; and My Father’s Words. She is also the author of countless beloved picture books, a number of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily. She lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.
★ “MacLachlan is the master of quiet books that pack an emotional wallop. My Father’s Words finds the author in her element. MacLachlan provides a beautifully nuanced portrait of one family’s recovery after tragedy. This book feels as direct and true as a dog looking you straight in the eyes.” — The New York Times Book Review
★ “Newbery Medalist MacLachlan is known for writing heart-tugging stories in spare style, as she did in Sarah, Plain and Tall. And that’s what she does here as readers meet Fiona and Finn. Deeply moving and uplifting in unexpected ways.” — Booklist (starred review)
★ “Key relationships in her own life inspired this characteristically taut and resonant novel by Newbery Medalist MacLachlan. MacLachlan masterfully mingles core themes in this slim volume: the power of words and song, memories and family, the mutually redemptive human-canine bond, and ‘the eternal fitness of things.’” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
★ “With her customary precise, spare language, infused with emotional intelligence, MacLachlan takes readers from shocked grief to a way to live again, fundamental truths dropped carefully and delicately for young readers to comprehend in their own time. A flawless story about resilience, hope, healing, and the eternal fitness of things.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A gently flowing story. This heartwarming title from an acclaimed author is a solid choice for school and public libraries seeking new bibliotherapy titles for children on loss and grief.” — School Library Journal
“The Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan is at the top of her game with this poignant, powerful novel about finding purpose and an outlet for grief at a shelter for animals.” — Washington Parent
“A flawless, reflective and ultimately redemptive novel [that] gently addresses loss, grief, hope and healing in the very best of ways.” — Port Huron Times Herald
“Simple prose conveys emotions with gentle humor and beautifully chosen words. A family or classroom read-aloud full of insight for all.” — Providence Journal
Praise for THE POET’S DOG: “Magical. A quiet, elegant, poignant story suffused with humor, heart, and goodness.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A spare, moving tale. Using simple words that even youngest readers will understand and enjoy, MacLachlan tackles subjects such as death and mourning with understated grace.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Readers will find their own jewel in this gem of a book.” — Booklist (starred review)
Praise for THE TRUTH OF ME: “Brief but emotionally intense...MacLachlan demonstrates her mastery of elegantly unfolding a tale and gently plucking at readers’ heartstrings without taking a maudlin tone.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for KINDRED SOULS: “MacLachlan handles a familiar theme with grace, providing a lens into an uncanny intergenerational bond, as well as the kindness and generosity of love.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for WORD AFTER WORD AFTER WORD: “Showing great respect for her readers and her craft, Newbery Award winner Patricia MacLachlan makes every word count in Lucy’s smooth-flowing, economic narrative.” — Booklist (starred review)