Urban, Linda. 2013. THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. Boston: Harcourt. ISBN 9780547763484 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]
Ruby Pepperdine has heard the story of donuts and Captain Cornelius Bunning’s invention of the donut hole “at least five hundred times.” Ruby’s town is preparing for the annual Bunning Day Parade. This year is different for three reasons: 1.) Ruby is the Bunning Day Essay Girl, 2.) She’s made a wish and is convinced her time is coming, and 3.) Her beloved grandmother will not be a part of the celebration. Ruby used to sit on top of the family’s motorcar business stargazing in Gigi’s arms. It was “the center of everything.” But, since Gigi passed away everyone else seems to have gone back to normal except for Ruby. She is stuck “underwater.” If her wish can come true, maybe things will finally be all right.
This is gentle story of family and loss. The author, writing in the present tense, skillfully utilizes flashbacks to develop Ruby’s relationship with Gigi and to slowly reveal Ruby’s wish. The result is a satisfying, slim but powerful novel that perfectly portrays the pain and consumption of grief. A circle motif is used cleverly throughout, beginning with the donut and ending with the circle of life that involves healing and hope.
Readers can research the history of donuts or the history of their own towns. They can study astronomy and constellations or the Wonders of the Ancient World. Readers can create their own color wheels. Finally, the novel mentions many traditions. Children can discuss the importance of traditions and write about their favorites.
More books about children dealing with loss:
LaFleur, Suzanne. LOVE, AUBREY. ISBN 9780385737746
Sloan, Holly Goldberg. COUNTING BY 7s. ISBN 9780803738553
Wiles, Deborah. LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER. ISBN 9780152023140