Layla, Queen of Hearts by Glenda Millard

49428869Lynn: I have been clear that I really don’t like books that make me cry so the fact that this one did and I am recommending Layla, Queen of Hearts (Farrar 2010) anyway should send a loud message! Layla Elliot has a problem. Senior Citizen Day is approaching fast for her third grade class and since Layla’s beloved nana died a year ago she has no one to bring. Layla confides in her best friend, Griffin Silk, and the friends take the problem to Griffin’s Grandma Nell. The Silk family may be an unusual one but Layla blends right in and although Griffin is willing to share his grandma, Nell understands that Layla wants someone of her own to bring. Soon the List of Likely Candidates is created and Layla, Griffin and Nell set out on interviews. It is the Last Resort, the forgetful Miss Amelia who Layla choses. Layla knows Miss Amelia is the right choice because they both share a nickname given to them by a loved one who has passed on: Queen of Hearts. Miss Amelia remembers her lost love, John William, perfectly, but often forgets who Layla is between visits. Senior Citizen Day is a success but not long after that, Miss Amelia becomes more and more confused and Nell explains that Miss Amelia has an illness that may mean she will have to go someplace where someone can look after her all the time. In time Layla has to handle one more loss.

Millard beautifully shows the story of people, young and old, who are able to understand and appreciate what lies in the hearts of others. This so easily could have been treacly sweet but Millard avoids sentimentality and gives us genuine emotion in an understated but completely effective style. Barton’s black and white sketches are adorable with just the right touch of whimsy. Just keep the kleenex handy.

This is the second book about Layla and Griffin. I haven’t yet read The Naming of Tishkin Silk (Farrar 2009) but it’s on my list for my next trip to the library!

Cindy: I think Lynn has been around me too long if she is starting to warm up to sad books! But then, she’s turned me into a more regular science fiction reader so I’m glad the mind meld is symbiotic. This was a bit of a tough read the week following my mother’s death, but Layla and the Silk family warmed my heart and kept me laughing in between the tears. In the Kingdom of Silk (the Silk family’s house) Saturday breakfasts are a big deal and, weather providing, are eaten outdoors. blog001The description of one with collected and fabricated birds nests at each seat filled with soft-boiled goose eggs resting on maple leaf placemats is delightful. The crowning touch? Nell knitted striped pom-pom topped beanies for each egg. Can I have breakfast at the Kingdom of Silk? Can I get a Queen of Hearts dress in my size? Can I buy some original art from Patrice Barton? Kids are going to love this book and it would make a great read aloud, but I’m being selfish today. This book was a tonic for my soul. Thank you to Glenda and Patrice. I can’t wait to go back to read the first book and hope we have a lot more of Layla yet to come.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Layla, Queen of Hearts by Glenda Millard"

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  1.' Charlotte says:

    I haven’t read this one yet, but the first book is a lovely one–even though it’s a bit sniff-inducing too!

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