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Watercress Shares Love and Loss
Watercress is a children’s book that dips into childhood memories that bring about a multitude of feelings. Writer Andrea Wang produces a touching story that’s autobiographical in nature, and much like the illustrations, the scenic landscape plays an important role in telling a complete story.
Watercress focuses on a family driving through Ohio who deviates from their scheduled trip to stop on the side of the road. The little girl doesn’t enjoy this detour as the family scours a ditch for food: watercress. After getting home, and they all settle in at the dinner table, the young girl believes this account of scavenging for food makes her feel less than her peers. Whether it be free food or clothes passed down from someone else, this notion that receiving “free” things make a person worth less in some way.
The mother doesn’t shame her daughter for feeling this way; she only brings out a picture of her brother when they used to live in China. This untold story about the girl’s uncle helps her to understand that not having much can be much worse. Suffering through a great famine, and losing a brother, are hardships that one can only imagine. So, when it comes to realizing that the watercress they found on the side of the road means they have food in their bellies, it’s also an opportunity to remember those who were less fortunate even still.
Beautiful Artwork Amplifies Touching Story
Artist Jason Chin illustrates these moments beautifully, capturing the magnitude of sorrow within the frameworks of a few still shots. One family of four struggling in a famine, and then the next image has one less at the dinner table. Watercress generates heartfelt connections with the reader by identifying that not everything is black and white, and as a parent, not everything is always spoken aloud.
Grief might lead to avoiding those feelings, but once the girl’s mother shares, it’s as if this journey to find watercress is now a happy memory; not necessarily replacing the sadness from the mother’s younger years, but bonding with her children in a way to where they understand that not having everything is okay. The value is right there sitting next to one another at the dinner table.
Watercress is a wonderful all-ages story. If you want to get this book for your kids, purchase your copy here.