by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Wayne Harris. Scholastic, 1993.
My four year old son Buddy has been sick with strep throat over and over this winter. Last winter it was the same thing. Now he has a positive strep test and no symptoms, so we were referred to an ENT specialist. He is scheduled to have his tonsils out in couple of weeks. Naturally the first thing I thought of when I got in to the library this morning was books about going to the hospital. My way of preparing him for the experience is to read a lot of good books about children living through the experience.
Buddy already reminded me that Curious George went to the hospital, so of course that was the first book on my list. Then we also have the Sesame Street hospital book where Grover gets his tonsils out. We have Cynthia Rylant's book The Bookshop Dog too.
My favorite so far is this one by Margaret Wild called Going Home. Hugo is a young boy in a hospital that happens to be right next to the zoo. He hasn't been given permission to go home yet and he is getting anxious. Luckily the animals start to call out to him and invite him to visit for romps around a magical world. He rides elephants on the African grasslands, swings with howler monkeys in the Amazon jungle, and rides a snow leopard across the Himalayas. His friends in the other hospital beds are all delighted when he shares his secrets with them before he finally gets discharged. I think the fantasy element of powerful, friendly and beautiful animals will comfort and excite Buddy.
One of the nice things about the character illustrations is that they are done in a variety of skin tones and hair types. Children from all ethnicities will be able to see themselves in this story. Margaret Wild has a long bibliography of great books written for children. She was born in South Africa and immigrated to Australia as an adult. Her books often address issues that are considered "serious" for children's lit, but which children live with every day. I like her way of offering children stories to help them manage situations such as sickness, death, loss of a loved one, divorce, bullying, grief and fear.
I am on the look out for more good books about hospitals and having one's tonsils out. Leave me a comment if you have any to add.