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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Before I Leave, written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $20.50 ages 3 and up

"Mom said I needed
to pack.
And she said you can't
come with us.
So I decided I'm not

Before I leave ...
... let's play!"

It doesn't seem long since I told you about Jessixa Bagley's first amazing book, Boats for Papa. It won much deserved praise with its tender tale of a mother and her son missing their husband and father. In this newest book, Ms. Bagley considers an age-old problem for young children - moving and leaving friends.

Zelda is a tiny, loving hedgehog. Arthur is an anteater. No one is better friends than the two of them. Zelda cannot believe it when her parents announce that they are moving. Zelda's task is to pack up her room. Arthur is helping. Both are filled with sadness and lethargy. They cannot face the fact that they will soon spend their days apart. Zelda's plan to stay put is met with resolution and eye rolls on the part of  her parents. Their house is sold; they are moving!

Choosing to ignore the forthcoming change, Zelda and Arthur decide to spend their final day in a blanket of happiness and a belief that 'nothing is changing'. They do all the things that they love to do together - play ball, swing, boat, get ice cream. Zelda is scared. Arthur offers assurance as best friends are wont to do, giving her courage for the change. When she gets to her new home, and is unpacking her own suitcase, she finds it full of lovely reminders of Arthur and the times they have spent together. Notes from one to the other are included, and lovely crayon drawings. It is as if Arthur is right there with her!

The tone of the story is hopeful and makes it clear that friendship lasts when both friends want it to be so. The two live in a warm, lively world as is shown in the softness of the watercolor artwork.
We are always looking for books about family moves to add to our shelves. This one fits that bill perfectly!

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