Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family when a Loved One Is Incarcerated


Cover of Far Apart, Close in Heart by Becky BirthaPublisher:
Albert Whitman & Company
Illustrator: Maja Kastelic
ISBN: 978-0-8075-1275-3
Year Published: 2017
Genre: Concept Book
Pages: 32
Size: 9×9 inches
Illustrations: Full color
Interest Level: Grades P- 3


Reviews of Far Apart, Close in Heart

“The subtitle of this picture book says it all. A racially and ethnically diverse sampling of children exemplify the grief and discomfort that come with losing a parent to incarceration….In Birtha’s direct, sympathetic text and Kastelic’s muted pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, these children … evince loneliness, anger, shame, and fear. Birtha gives them sympathetic adults, such as a coach who won’t let Jermaine’s teammates mock him and the teacher who listens to Atian, who’s been acting out. Tips on talking to children with incarcerated parents and further resources are included in the backmatter; these, combined with the direct, role-modeling text, make this book as valuable for adult readers as it is for children.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“This important picture book functions as a guide for children to understand their emotions about an incarcerated parent, but it also works as a way for a caregiver to support the child. The line drawings, in vignettes, have a soft palette and focus on the emotions of the children. The book ends with a note to caregivers, further resources, and tips to help adults be open and understanding. VERDICT A highly recommended title that serves as an excellent entry to discuss incarceration in an age-appropriate way or as a tool for children as they work through their complicated feelings.”
School Library Journal, Starred Review

“In this important book, young readers will learn that even when it feels like nothing can get better again, there are ways they can improve their circumstances. Sending letters, talking to a trusted grown-up about their feelings, and even visiting a parent in jail or prison can help keep a parent close in their hearts. Use this title as a helpful tool to start a conversation with any child in this situation and to remind them they are not alone.”
Independent Publisher

“Drawing on her own experience, Birtha gilds the text with tenderness and affirmation so that all responses are rendered valid…. In addition to the children’s feelings, we learn about the ways adults treat children with incarcerated parents: some with judgment, and others with kindness and friendship. The book ends with sage advice: talk to a trusted adult….Jacqueline Woodson’s Visiting Day (2002) makes a nice fictional pairing for this book.”
Booklist Online (American Library Association)