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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Map of Good Memories, written by Fran Nuno and illustrated by Zuzanna Celej. Cuento deLuz, 2016. $23.95 ages 5 and up

"First she marked the house where she lived. Here she had learned to walk and spoken her first words. Her room had always been a wonderful place, full of games and daydreams. Her home had become a place full of good memories. Then she marked the place where she was at that particular moment - her school. While she did it, she ran through the names of her teachers and her favorite classmates."

World Refugee Day falls on June 20th each year, and is observed throughout the world. With the millions of people who have left and who are still being forced to leave their homelands, it is important that we take time to honor them. It takes great courage to leave what they have always know for a place new and unfamiliar with a dream of a better life.

It is impossible to fathom the number of people today who live in unsafe and terrifying conditions. Now, as many countries put stringent conditions on immigration, many are left to linger in refugee camps around the world, all wanting a chance to protect and keep their families safe and intact.

Zoe has always loved her home, and war is the reason she and her family must leave. Before they leave, the ten-year-old decides to draw a map of her neighborhood and all the places that have made her happy while living there. She begins with the family home, then her school, the library and the bookshop. She goes on to include the park, the movie theater, thr river, and North Bridge.

As she draws her map, she thinks fondly of the memories in each place.

"Zoe loved going to the movies, so she
drew a circle around her favorite cinema,
and remebered all the films she'd
enjoyed there.

She also thought about the candy
counter, the big seats, the lady who
showed  you to your seat with a flashlight
... and the magic of the big screen!"

The watercolor images give the reader a real sense of being present in Zoe's world as she names and draws those things that mean the most to her. They evoke a feeling of her life leading up to this terrible time when the family must pick up their lives and move. The feel of the pages themselves and the beauty of the book's artwork is striking. 

Good memories, indeed. Readers are richer and more empathetic for having read this book.

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