The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirosta’s Garden by: Heather Smith and Rachel Wada

Themes: grief, loss, love, healing

Publication: 2019

Age group: it’s a picture book but I feel it could work for grade school aged kids because of the topic

This is a beautiful story based on real life events. The story follows Maiko, a young boy, and his neighbor, Mr. Hirota. One day, a tsunami washes away the loved ones in Maiko’s village. The entire community is shadowed in sadness. Wanting to talk to his daughter again, Mr. Hirota builds a telephone booth and places an unconnected phone inside. He sits in the phone booth and talks to his daughter, hoping his words are carried to her by the wind. Soon, others visit the booth to talk to their loved ones. Eventually, Maiko talks to his father and begins the process of grieving and healing.

This story touches my heart. I think it’s a great example of how a void is created when we lose people we love. Mr. Hirota’s phone booth allows the villagers to stay connected to those they’ve lost. It doesn’t quickly solve the pain and sadness the villagers feel, but gives them an opportunity to start the healing process. When Maiko does talk to his dad, he tells him he misses him. I think this can show children that it’s okay to say you miss the person you’ve lost.

I recommend this read and hope you’ll give it a chance.

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