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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Yard Sale, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $18.00 ages 5 and up

"ALMOST EVERYTHING WE OWN is spread out in our front yard. It is all for sale. We are moving to a small apartment. "Small, but nice," my mom told me. She and Dad took me to see it. He showed me the fun bed that came down from the wall. "Look," he said. "It's right in the living room." "It's all nice," I said. But it didn't feel like ours." 

Eve Bunting has been telling amazing stories since 1971. At this point, she has written more than 250 books in a variety of genres. At 86, she continues to pen stories that matter. In this book, she helps her young audience see what life is like for a young girl as she faces the big changes that are happening in her family. Ms. Bunting has tremendous respect for children; she has proven that time and again.

As the book opens, we see Callie sitting on the front step and learn that her family is having a yard sale. It is necessary to help them downsize from their family home to a much smaller space. Her parents have worked hard to reassure her, taking her to the new place and showing her how special it is. When she sees all of their belongings spread on the lawn, and the many people who are picking through the family's treasures, she is unconvinced. It is a very difficult  adjustment for her. So many memories are tied up in the 'stuff' that people are loading into their vehicles.

Callie tells her friend that the move has something to do with money. She doesn't understand much else about it. How traumatic such a move must be for any child trying to deal fear and confusion. We know, as the parents try to help their daughter with the challenges presented, that they are equally upset by the circumstances. It will take time for all three to adjust to their new reality.

Lauren Castillo uses warm watercolors to match the tone of the story, capturing its emotions with care and without being too overwhelming to a young reader's understanding. She uses her signature bold outlines to show the emotions that engulf Callie at different points in her story. They will definitely tug at heartstrings. By changing perspective, she helps the audience see the scope of the loss and the sadness felt by all members of the family. She also makes us clearly aware of the love that exists. What is more important than that?

 Emotional, honest and poignant, it is a story that needs to be shared to let other children who are going through the same thing know they are not alone.

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