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A brown-skinned tot keeps hearing an unfamiliar word that starts with the letter C. He knows that it makes people sad, but he doesn’t know what it is. His parents explain that it is a disease from which “some get better, but, sadly, some may pass away.” He then goes on to ask other adults in his life—his teacher, other relatives—the multitude of questions swirling in his head. Why can’t they just take medicine to get better? Is it contagious? Pal, an educator, knows precisely what fears and misconceptions a child may have. The rhyming style is a bit constrictive and also limits explanation: “There are different kinds of treatments doctors will try. / Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy; big words for a little guy.” But the appended glossary can help to deepen further conversations. The touching twist is that the family goes on to gather other words that start with C that can help someone struggling with cancer, such as community and cuddling. Andreasen’s definitively outlined characters don’t shy away from showing such side effects as hair loss or amputation. The patients are also all different ages and races, stamping out any stereotypical ideas.

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