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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bad Bye, Good Bye, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2014. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"Bad day
Bad box

Bad mop
Bad blocks

Bad truck
Bad guy"

I was in Winnipeg last week to help my son move into his new condo. We had a great time, working together to unpack boxes, fill cupboards and wonder at how much a young man can accumulate in a pretty short time. It did a mom's heart good to look around at the end of two long days and see him surrounded by everything he loves...his dogs, his books, his music, his technology. I am not a mover; he has moved many times! I am sure there is a book to be written about it.

Moving can be incredibly difficult. Some time ago I wrote a post about a boy named Neville ( and I talked about how much I appreciated it as a perfect story about adjusting to a move from a child's point of view. Now, I want to tell you a bit about Deborah Underwood's equally terrific book about moving.

This one is told with simpler text. The feelings are equally fraught with concern and isolation. Of course, it begins on a rainy day. This gives the reader a clear feeling for the blues felt by the little boy as the movers pack up the family's belongings. He wants his box of toys back, and wrestles the movers for it. He's angry about everything and everyone knows it. It isn't until the third page turn that we learn what is causing his absolute gloom...he is leaving a friend.

The drive is equally miserable: gray skies, tears, concerned faces. As the gray clouds lift and golden wheat beckons from passing fields, the sun brightens the mood. Rest stops, naps, dog walking, a stop for the night and a swim in the motel pool alleviates concern, and helps to turn the trip into an appreciated adventure. Lots to see on the following day, and games to play while travelling, assures a happier arrival at the 'new'. Fears subside as a new friend surfaces, and all is well.

The rhyming text may be brief; it speaks volumes as Ms. Underwood shows readers just how hard making a move can be. Jonathan Bean uses ink and Prismacolor tone to deftly capture the changing events of the story. Every page needs to be explored fully, from the gray wash backgrounds of the movers' constant motion in the face of the young boy's reluctance to move on, to the shift from gray and gloomy to light-filled action as the move progresses. (I love, love, love Dinah's Dina!)

Don't miss this book!
It's definitely on my ever-growing 'Caldecott Calling' list.

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