Project Description


Zayde Comes to Live

by Sheri Sinykin
illustrated by Kristina Swarner

In this touching, simple story, a young Jewish girl named Rachel tries to make peace with the impending death of her grandfather.

Rachel’s grandfather, her zayde, has come to live with her family. Though no one has told her, Rachel knows it is because Zayde is dying, and she worries what will happen to him. Her friends’ religions offer her no solace, and although she gets some answers from her Rabbi about where Zayde may go, Rachel still can’t imagine her own life without Zayde in it. It is only when she realizes that Zayde will live on in the love and memories they share that she finally begins to find peace.

Author Sheri Sinykin’s understated text and illustrator Kristina Swarner’s beautiful illustrations combine to create a moving story about truth, love, and loss.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-631-4
Publication Date: 10/1/2012
Page Count: 32
Size: 10 ̎ x 10 ̎
Age Range: 6 – 10
Language: English
AR Level: 2.6
GRL: N, Gr 3
Lexile: AD490L
Themes: Belief, Death, Family, Grief
BISAC 1: JUV039030 Social Issues / Death & Dying
BISAC 2: JUV033020 Religious / Jewish
BISAC 3: JUV013030 Family / Multigenerational


“Sinykin hits just the right balance of communication and reassurance with her storytelling, as does Swarner with her endearing and soothing illustrations. Children will relate to Rachel’s concerns and appreciate the comforting and positive messages relayed in a story that takes on a difficult and important subject.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“There are many books that help a young child cope with death, but this is a particularly moving one… Although this reverberates with the beliefs of a particular religion, the emotions and message transcend.” ―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“The beautifully sensitive storytelling comforts readers by showing the inevitability of the circle of life in the context of strong family love…the emotions ring true universally… Pitch-perfect text and illustrations combine to create a story that will touch readers’ hearts.” ―School Library Journal

“Sinykin does a commendable job of dispelling fear with empathy and tenderness through some very direct yet positive answers to a child’s uncertainty…Though Rachel’s quest takes place within a Jewish context, her emotions and situation are near universal, and this artful book handles both well.” ―Kirkus Reviews

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“Sensitive and moving…even those from outside the faith can take comfort in the relationship between Zayde and his grandchild, “breathing in, breathing out, together,” and making memories.” ―Parents’ Choice

“The message inside the 32-page picture book is emotive, heartfelt. And not only for children.” ―San Diego Jewish World

“For families that are facing the imminent loss of a grandparent, Zayde Comes to Live, by Sheri Sinykin, is an absolute treasure…The tone of Zayde Comes to Live is remarkably peaceful and comforting… Never didactic or sanctimonious, it won’t answer your children’s questions about death, but it will help parents of all traditions begin the conversation.” ―Washington Jewish Week

“In this sensitive portrait of a young girl and her grandfather, author Sheri Sinykin approaches the issue of death from a distinctly Jewish perspective while demonstrating respect for all beliefs. Kristina Swarner’s lush illustrations add layers of depth and wonder to the story.” ―Children’s Book Council

“Sheri Sinykin has handled the subject of death with sensitivity and grace. Kristina Swarner’s use of linoleum prints with watercolor and colored pencil for her lovely illustrations evokes a light-filled and comforting mood. Very highly recommended.” ―Jewish Book Council



The Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers (Honor) ―Association of Jewish Libraries, 2013

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―National Council for the Social Studies, Children’s Book Council, 2013

Parents’ Choice Recommended Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2012

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Elizabeth Burr / Worzalla Award ―Wisconsin Library Association, 2013

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Primary) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2013

Paterson Prize for Books for Young People (Honor Book) ―The Poetry Center at Passiac County Community , 2013


Meet the Author

Sheri Sinykin is the author of several middle grade and young adult novels. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Vermont College, where she received an MFA in writing for children. She lives in Massachusetts and Arizona. You can visit her website here.

Meet the Illustrator

Kristina Swarner, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, has illustrated books, posters, and greeting cards. She lives in Illinois. You can visit her website here.