Boundless Grace
written by Mary Hoffman
illustrated by Caroline Binch

Mary Hoffman's Boundless Grace
Illustrated by Caroline Binch

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 5-12

Visiting a forgotten father

In this sequel to the popular and acclaimed Amazing Grace, Grace is a big reader. And as a reader, she's not so pleased with her family.

After all, most of the stories she reads feature

  • a mom and dad
  • a sister and brother, and
  • a dog.

By Grace's reckoning, this family is short one dad, one brother, and one dog. (Though the family is blessed with a grandmother and a cat!)

Grace has come to think of herself as not even having a father, hers having split from her mom and returned to Africa so long ago.

(If that scenario sounds a little familiar, know that Boundless Grace was written well before a certain American president arrived on the public stage.)

Boundless Grace - summary and review

Grace's mom insists Grace still has a father, but Grace isn't much convinced that a father you don't see is all that different from no father at all.

Then a letter arrives from Africa. In it is money enough for two tickets to Africa. When author Mary Hoffman addresses long-distance visitation, she doesn't mess around with anything but the longest of distances!

Grace's visit (she goes with her grandmother) is a joyous one. Dad feels like Dad to her as soon as he sweeps her up in his arms in the airport. She has a stepfamily too, and while she throws an initial cold shoulder toward her stepmom, she is eventually persuaded to get over it.

Everything about the trip is pretty much non-stop wonderfulness, and when it's over Grace resolves to write a story about a family that is built like hers.

Africa (the nation of Gambia) is a visual wonder, but the story makes clear that people - families and stepfamilies - are the same the world over. The only real thing different is the setting! Speaking of which...

Artist Caroline Binch works magic with pencil and watercolor drawn from photographs. (Think Norman Rockwell!) The colors of Africa are gorgeous, but it's the people who really make an impact. Binch's photorealism leaves you thinking there must be a real Grace, making the story that much more affecting.

Grace gets the news from Mom, Grace visits Dad

In fact, both author Hoffman and illustrator Binch traveled to Africa to ensure the story's authenticity. Kudos to both of them for Boundless Grace. If you know a child with a parent who isn't always nearby, this book should be!

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