Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moving Day - 6 Sensational Picture Books to Help Kids Adjust to a Move

A few weeks ago, a friend contacted us asking about our favorite titles about moving to a new home. Honestly, I was stumped for a minute. Aside from Judith Viorst's classic Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move (my love for Alexander could take up a whole post all on its own), I couldn't think of a single one. We haven't had occasion to seek this topic out yet with Sprout, so off to the library catalog I went to search for some titles. In short order I had a big ol' stack, all of which we read as a family.

And without further ado, here are our favorites!

First up is Bandit, written by Karen Rostoker-Gruber and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen. The main character in this title is a somewhat snarky housecat, Bandit, who is shocked when movers show up and then he's taken to a new house. No way is Bandit taking that lying down, so he high-tails it to his old place, but someone else is already there. Fortunately his owner shows up to claim him, and Bandit discovers that the new place is just fine - with all his things in it! The retro illustrations and comic-inspired format make this lots of fun, and kids will identify with Bandit's feelings when a move seems to come up out of nowhere.

In a similar vein, Jessica Harper's I Like Where I Am is also about a boy who isn't thrilled to be moving house. "I've got trouble," he tells us, "I've got BIG TROUBLE." And it certainly seems that he does, because he's got to leave behind his house, his room, and even his friends to move to a place called Little Rock. But the narrator eventually changes his tune, because in Little Rock, he not only finds a new friend (with a swimming pool!), he also gets his own kitten. G. Brian Karas illustrated this spunky title, and as usual he mixes in a nice bit of diversity, a clear bonus in our book.

Apprehension about a new place is a familiar theme in Anika and Christopher Denise's Bella and Stella Come Home. Bella and her stuffed elephant Stella enjoy a relationship similar to that of Calvin and Hobbes, where Stella is alive, but only to her owner. Bella's glad to have her friend along to explore the new house, where everything seems just wrong, from the color of the kitchen to the lack of a tree in the back yard. Resigned to their fate, the friends settle in for the night - and in the morning, with all their toys and furniture around, things start looking up. The soothing text pairs nicely with the soft palette and cozy pictures - a great choice for bedtime, even if you're not moving house.

Sprout was especially excited about this next pick, A Brave Spaceboy by Dana Kessimakis Smith, with pictures by Laura Freeman. He had really enjoyed the pair's other title, A Wild Cowboy, and I love that these books both feature a multiracial family (African American and Asian American). The moving theme in this title is conveyed very subtly, almost entirely through the pictures, while the text centers around space exploration. That makes for a great opportunity to talk about words and images working together to tell a story. As with their other outing, this one is colorful and high energy, a great book for emphasizing the fun part of moving to a new place.

For another series title, we also read Niki Daly's Where's Jamela?, a book set in South Africa and featuring Daly's recurring character. The vivacious Jamela is not so thrilled about her Mama getting a new job, which means moving to a new place. Everything about their old place is just right, from the smell of cooking to the familiar neighbors nearby. So Jamela does what any sensible girl would - she hides out in a moving box! Naturally that causes quite the ruckus, but it all ends well in Daly's capable hands. This title fairly bursts with life, and readers will love seeing Jamela settle in to what will, we know, be a great place to live.

The last title in our list is a quieter one, perfect for winding down the evening or bringing a thoughtful tone to a  story session. Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House, by Libby Gleeson, echoes the tone of many other titles. Clancy's not happy about his new home, which seems all wrong to him, though his parents love it. Depressed about the whole situation, he ventures outside, where the huge stack of moving boxes towers to the sky. As Clancy begins to explore, he meets Millie, whose idea of fun is much the same as Clancy's, and the two happily build cardboard trains and crazy houses. And then, suddenly, the house that wasn't so terrific, seems great after all. I love the sketchy quality of Freya Blackwood's illustrations, as well as her deft portrayal of Clancy's eye-view of the first very-wrong, then very-fine house he now calls home.

With these titles, the intense emotions that can arise due to a move are explored through humor, sensitivity and lots of great pictures. Whether you're planning a move or simply want a moving reading experience, add these titles to your library list today!

1 comment:

Beth Cox said...

The Red Boat by Hannah Cumming, and Moving Day, illustrated by Jess Stockham are also worth checking out.