Mac Barnett, author of the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book Extra Yarn, turns a popular children’s game into a high-wire act in his latest offering. In many picture books featuring people and animals, the animal world serves as the background. In Telephone, the opening spread features a wordless panorama in which children playing outside offer a clue of what’s to come for the many birds sitting on the telephone lines high above.
After her father buys a cemetery and relocates their family inland from their idyllic California seaside home, 15-year-old Leigh finds not only that she’s a good fit for the after-death industry, but also that it gives her some comfort. Her older sister’s cancer just went into remission, her artistic mother would rather be back by the ocean, and Leigh’s still grieving for the best friend she recently lost. When Leigh discovers a secret in the cemetery, her grief turns to guilt. She refuses to take on any new friends, not even the cool home--schooled girl whose family provides flowers for the cemetery.