Whether you move to a new neighborhood, across the country, or even halfway around the world, moving carries a unique set of emotions.
I’ve read stacks of picture books about moving in the past weeks to find a few choice titles for today’s blog. Interestingly, I found the vast majority of them cast an only child dreading upcoming loneliness. Is that really the dominant reality? I’m not so sure.
At any rate, today I’ve got two excellent new-in-2014 titles, one charming vintage title, one book featuring a huge, cross-cultural move, and one of my favorite ever books about moving by the one-and-only Shirley Hughes.
I hope if you’re pulling up stakes this summer, you have a smooth move, and a grand adventure exploring new places and meeting new friends.
Bad Bye, Good Bye, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean
published in 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
As soon as I saw this duo was creating a book, I knew I would love it. And I was right.
First — the text. All just two-word phrases, with a rhyming pattern that links and carries them forward. “Bad day Bad box Bad mop Bad blocks” Without any long, drawn out prose, Underwood’s words, her alliteration, her single, pounding syllables, hammer home the unhappy, angry emotions of this first scene. As the book progresses, these phrases and emotions subtly, gradually shift. The long road trip is peppered with interesting observations. A wave of newness, and a soothing, hopeful dip into happiness, complete the journey.
Jonthan Bean’s illustrations masterfully narrate a truckload of story elements as he scoops us into the life of this young family. The strong emotions, the dizzying commotion of moving day, the full-bore explosion of sadness at pulling away from friends and home, the fatigue, the longlonglong road trip, the tentative feel of new houses, the companionable warmth of friendship. It’s all here. Bean’s gradual shift of color schemes and composition usher us from emptiness to fullness. The motion morphs as well, from a tugging backwards, to a steady forward motion, to the peaceful, settled ending. Just take your time and see how much he has packed into these expressive pages.
It’s a fabulous book, accessible to ages 3 and up.
The Good-Pie Party, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
published in 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Here’s another dynamite team who have collaborated on a scrumptious book.
Posy Peyton, who looks to be about 8 or 9 years old, is not looking forward to moving. Her best friends, Megan and Mae, try to make the most of the trio’s time together, but glum thoughts prevail. There’s only one solution: pie.
That cinnamon-and-sugary apple goodness gives them another very bright idea: Having a good-pie party instead of a good-bye party. So the three girls organize a crowd of friends, a groaning tableful of pies, a glorious party. It’s still no fun to split up the trio, but the good-pie party soothes a bit of the sting.
Kady MacDonald Denton’s charming, friendly illustrations have enormous appeal. The warm, cheery color palette floods these pages with assurance, comfort, and gladness. There’s a wistfulness to this story, but an overall sense of thankfulness for sweet friendships that last, even when you move away. Ages 5 and up, with strong girl-appeal.
Moving Day, by Tobi Tobias, illustrated by William Pène du Bois
published in 1976 by Alfred A. Knopf
This dear vintage title is oh-so-70s with its lack of punctuation and capitalization
for why would you want
to use those
elements of the establishment
So liberated! Anyway, it’s a super charming account of a little girl and her teddy. She’s not nervous about the upcoming move, though Bear is a little.
There are many articles — umbrellas, boots, a bottle cap collection — to sort and pack and load up. There are goodbyes and a long road trip, and a heap of boxes to unpack and furniture to arrange. A jolly supper of hamburgers and green peas and mashed potatoes is eaten on paper plates in a little box fort that first night. The next day is for meeting a new friend. This will be a good home for her and Bear.
Breezy, upbeat, and reassuring the whole way.
William Pène du Bois was a prolific author and illustrator who won the Newbery for Twenty-One Balloons, and wrote many other fairly quirky tales. His artwork is marvelously delicate and chic and light. Just delightful. The 70s fashions and cars add immensely to the charm. Ages 4 and up.
Goodbye, 382 Shin Dang Dong, by Frances Park and Ginger Park, illustrated by Yangsook Choi
published in 2002 by National Geographic Society
Some moves are much more extreme than others.
Moving across the globe means saying goodbye to your own language and culture, food and weather, besides the family and friends and home you’re leaving so very far behind.
Jangmi, eight years old, is moving from Korea to America. She is saying goodbye to the sound of raindrops on her clay-tiled roof and her grandmother’s dumpling soup, Korean songs and rice paper doors, and her dear friend, Kisuni.
Arriving in Massachusetts, Jangmi is taken aback at the strangeness of this place, pleasantly surprised at the kindness of neighbors welcoming them, delighted with the sweet taste of honeydew and a little girl named Mary.
Yet learning to love this place will take time, and this honest story does not pretend otherwise. “My heart beats in two places,” Jangmi says. For all children who share this experience, Jangmi’s story will ring true. Yangsook Choi’s oil paintings warmly reveal both of Jangmi’s worlds. Ages 6 and up.
Moving Molly, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
published in Great Britain in 1978 by The Bodley Head
Well, Moving Molly is my favorite book about moving, and here are a few ways it differs from some others:
*The focus is on the whole family making the move, rather than just one child.
*Everyone is excited to move, as they’re moving from small quarters in town, to a place with a large “garden” (thats “yard” in American).
*Moving day is mostly jolly.
*Half the story is devoted to settling in at the new place.
*Molly is plenty happy exploring and playing wildly imaginative games by herself, out of doors, in this new place, while her siblings are in school. In fact, when new neighbor children show up, she’s not particularly pleased. It takes a while to greet these newcomers and begin to be friends. I love this about Molly. Playing alone is not the worst thing that ever happened to a child! Rummaging about, pretending grandly, lost in your own world in an unkempt yard, is lovely soul-food.
It’s a typically warm, very human, lively story from Hughes, full of her superb illustrations. One of our family’s favorites, for ages 4 and up.