When my daughter came home from open heart surgery the first time she was quiet and reserved, eager to re-establish her three and a half year old kingdom of stuffed animals, dance parties in dress up clothes and coloring family portraits made of rainbow colored stick figures. When she returned home from open heart surgery at five and a half years old, she understood more and asked questions we hadn’t heard her articulate before. She asked questions about her stay in the hospital. She wondered about her scars. She asked questions about her future and she wanted to know if there was a book to help her make sense of her experience.
I searched and searched for a book that was on her level and couldn’t find much. I ordered a few things that had promise but ended up being written for adults or had sparse and dated illustrations. I wanted something that would engage her at her level and captivate her, but couldn’t seem to find anything that fit the bill.
So when I saw in a CHD parent group, Vicky Gooden’s book My Wonder Line I was excited to take a look. What I found was a beautifully illustrated and lyrically written story about a little girl’s heart scar.
This is not a scientific look at the body, the anatomical heart or surgery, instead Gooden offers an exploration of chest scars that normalizes scars and takes an expansive look at all the different kinds of scars kids have for a variety of reasons. It is exactly the kind of book I wished I’d had to read at bedtime when my daughter was in preschool as an additional tool to help her build confidence in her scarred body and make sense of how her body is different and the same as other bodies.
My Wonder Line is the kind of book that would make a thoughtful and caring gift to a parent newly joining the heart community or the world of childhood surgeries. This book with a thoughtful card tucked in with a home cooked meal or with a Doordash gift card would be a lovely way to share practical and emotional support for parent and child alike.
My Wonder Line is not just the book I wish I had as a parent to a young heart child, but the kind of book that I will be sharing with other parents and kids as we make meaning of this strange and wondrous experience.
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