Review of Cape

Cape Cape
by Kevin Johnson; illus. by Kitt Thomas
Primary     Roaring Brook    40 pp.
6/23    9781250840509    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781250336132    $10.99

On the day of a funeral, a young brown-skinned boy wears the cape that the deceased gave him, as a shield against painful memories. After the funeral, the child continues to use the cape to block out the adults as they share memories of his loved one. Finally, he allows himself to remember. He recalls the man’s laugh and his love. In his debut picture book—“a love letter to my dad,” per the appended note—Johnson sensitively portrays a young child grappling with grief. The text is spare, with some wordless pages and many containing only one sentence. Despite the small number of words, the boy’s big emotions are clear. Thomas’s digital illustrations provide beautiful support to the story. In the opening pages, we can clearly see the boy’s sadness through his downturned eyes and tears. Early images are slightly muted to portray his sadness; when he begins to allow his memories in, the images become more vibrant. This book is a very welcome and approachable way to discuss grief and death with young readers. In his author’s note, Johnson provides more details about his own late father, “my own personal Superman.”

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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