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Children in a seaside town are fascinated by Mister Rodriguez. Every afternoon at 4, the old man—dressed elegantly in a black hat and coat, a bright red scarf, and polished black shoes—sets off from his home for a walk. The children hide behind a tree to wait for him and to watch him as he passes by.

Each day the children witness something new and surprising. On Monday, a dove flutters down and settles by Mr. Rodriguez. He attaches a silk thread to the bird’s foot, and then they’re off for a walk. On Tuesday, the old man floats down the street with a fishbowl balanced on his head, a goldfish inside. And so it goes—the next days are stranger still. Though the children are aware of Mr. Rodriguez’s peculiar comings and goings, the adults are oblivious.

When Mr. Rodriguez doesn’t show up on Saturday, the children become concerned. What has become of their endearing, mysterious neighbor? On Sunday, the children search again, then encounter a shocking revelation. They respond by creating a seashell message on the beach, a farewell to one they have come to love and admire.

Author Christiane Duschene’s fantastical story reveals how children might imagine the death of an elderly person. Illustrator Francois Thisdale’s magnificent artwork, which blends drawing and painting with digital imagery, portrays children from various ethnic backgrounds and captures how they perceive reality differently than adults do.

Christian parents and caregivers might use this unique children’s picture book as a springboard to talk about death, and the assurance God’s children have that God will always be faithful to them and promises them an eternal home with him. (Pajama Press)

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