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Monday, June 16, 2014

From There to Here, written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Matt James. Groundwood, 2014. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"There. We lived on a road. A graveled and oiled road, carved into the middle of the bush. A road without a name. Here. We live on a street. An asphalted and sidewalked street, paved into the middle of the city. A street with a name. Birch Street. I don't see any birch trees. They must be hiding in the backyards behind the fences."

I have waited 4 long years to meet up with the young girl I so happily first met in 2010,  when I read about her life in the book by Laurel Croza and Matt James called I Know Here (Groundwood, 2010). I loved that book then, and love it still. I often share it in classrooms, and also suggest it as a perfect title to help children explore the concept of moving from one place to another.

We knew from that first book that she and her family were moving from northern Saskatchewan to Toronto. In Saskatchewan her father worked at a dam site helping to provide electricity for the people of the prairies. The were moving because her father had accepted a new job.

In this book we learn that the move was precipitated by the building of a new highway in Toronto, and her father's role in that project. Everything is different from one place to the other, and she explains the differences for those who are reading her story. There is much to be missed about the 'there', and she is feeling every single change.

The text of the book is reminiscent of the author's childhood, which took her from place to place as her father worked at new sites helping to build dams. She so eloquently allows her readers a close personal look at the feelings these moves had for both she and the other member of her family, I suspect. Explored in simple phrasing, it allows those reading it to pause and consider the impact on a child to leave one much loved, rural landscape for a totally new and different urban setting.

Opening the book to the engaging map of Canada drawn by Matt James to show us both 'here' and 'there' is the perfect invitation for a discussion about the geography of parts of Canada. Toronto is located with a big red star, an imperceptible hint that the color red might figure strongly in this tale. Indeed, it does. The young girl who wears red in every spread, the stop sign, the bike, the trailer siding, the aurora borealis at their previous home, even the fire that lights the dense bush...all add cohesiveness to a story well told.

Here and there may be different, but here is made much better with the help of a important lesson to all who share this lovely new book.  It can be upsetting, and also special to move from one place to another.

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