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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Life Without Nico, written by Andrea Maturana and illustrated by Francisco Javier Olea. Kids Can Press, 2016. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"But one day, Nico's
father says they'll
be moving far away
for a while so he
can continue his

This news is hard
to accept.

The days pass quickly."

In a book about moving that takes the perspective of the best friend left behind, we meet Nico and Maia. They do everything together ... until, they don't. Nico's is moving far away with his family and Maia is left to miss him, and to find new meaning in her days. She is very lonely, but she just can't make time for anything but her longing for Nico.

"Now time passes slowly, and the emptiness
follows Maia everywhere she goes.
It's boring. She can't play
with it, and it won't let
other children near."

As happens, her feelings of loneliness ease. A kitten helps, and so does concentrating on piano lessons. At school, she meets a new friend who shares her interests. She and Nico talk on the phone and share news. When spring arrives, Maia no longer has to count the days until her best friend is back. That day arrives ... and with it, a niggling worry that things may have changed between them. A lot has happened since they have been apart. She need not have worried at all. The hole that was left in her heart with Nico's departure is filled once more.

There is so much emotion involved when best friends part. Those feelings are carefully shared in this lovely, quiet story from Mexico. The illustrations perfectly match the story's tone, with shadows portraying the emptiness that Maia feels while Nico is gone. There is also light within those shadows, and bold and beautiful color to herald his return.

Lovely, and sure to inspire conversation.

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