"To & Fro, Fast & Slow"
Written by Durga Bernhard
Illustrated by Durga Bernhard
(Walker & Company, 2001)
An "issue book" that bogs down under the weight of its own self-importance, as well as its cluttered, confusing presentation. On the surface it's about contrasts and opposites, but slowly you realize it's about a girl shuttling between her two divorced parents -- one lives in town, the other in the country, etc. The trouble is that the story isn't presented very clearly, either in the text or visually -- you're just expected to be 100% on the author's wavelength and intuitively "get" what she's telling you. If not, oh well. I just thought this book was difficult to connect with, emotionally, aesthetically or intellectually. I didn't get it, and I'm not so sure the failing was all mine. Perhaps, though, if you were an eight-year-oldish kid with divorced parents, it might have more resonance. (C-)
Written by Barbara Bottner
Illustrated by Beth Spiegel
A nice book that does double duty as a story about moving to a new house and about finding new friends. When Rosa gets a new room all to herself, she finds it feels empty and lonely somehow, until one day she spots another little girl playing outside her window and invites her in. Naturally, Rosa and Lila become best friends, and after that, the room doesn't feel so empty anymore. (B+)
"I'm A Tiger, Too!"
Written by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
(Roaring Brook Press, 2001)
A lonely boy uses his imagination to pretend that a neighborhood cat is a roaring tiger, a dog is a wild wolf, a fish in a pond becomes a playful porpoise, and so on... But things improve when another boy moves in next door, and he finally has someone his own age to play with... Especially since the new kid also has a lively imagination, and they go off roaring together, tigers in the jungle. We weren't wowed by this one, but it was nice enough. (B-)
"Leon And Bob"
Written by Simon James
Illustrated by Simon James
A sweet story about a boy named Leon who creates an imaginary friend called Bob, who comforts Leon while his father is away (in the army) and his mother is away at work... Leon is the also newest kid in his neighborhood, at least until another new kid moves in next door... When Leon works up the courage to ask is neighbor out to play, he brings imaginary companion along with him, but Bob disappears before Leon can ring the bell -- he is about to be replaced by a real-life friend... And after Leon takes the simple first step of saying "hi" and asking the new kid to come to the park with him, a new chapter opens up. One nice thing about this book is that it isn't judgmental or problem-oriented: the imaginary friendship is presented in a very matter-of-fact way, and the story isn't about how adults try to curtail an unhealthy fantasy, but rather how that fantasy helps a kid get through a rough emotional time. A simple, soft story that will ring true on many levels. (B)
"A Brave Spaceboy: Moving Is An Adventure!"
Written by Dana Kessimakis Smith
Illustrated by Laura Freeman
This book does triple duty -- as a book about outer space, moving into a new house, and making new friends. Told from the point of view of two toddler twin siblings, we see the twins as they move into a new house and make themselves at home by playing a big game of astronaut, using one of the empty moving boxes as their rocket. Meanwhile, the neighbors drop by with a housewarming gift, and their young, shy daughter in tow. The kids take a little while to sniff one another out, but by the end of the book, they're all having a ball. The text and artwork are both a little too cutesy and precious, but overall this is a nice book. Worth checking out. (B)
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