A little girl and her family have just moved across the country by train. Their new neighborhood in the city of Toronto is very different from their home in the Saskatchewan bush, and at first everything about “there” seems better than “here.”
The little girl’s dad has just finished building a dam across the Saskatchewan River, and his new project is to build a highway through Toronto. In Saskatchewan, he would come home for lunch every day, but now he doesn’t come until supper. The family used to love to look at the stars, and the northern lights dancing in the night sky. But in the city, all they can see is the glare from the streetlights. All the kids used to run and play together, but now older brother Doug has his own friends.
Then one day there is a knock on the door. It is Anne, who lives kitty-corner and is also eight, going on nine, and suddenly living in Toronto takes on a whole new light.
Laurel Croza and Matt James have beautifully captured the voice and intense feelings of a young child who, in the midst of upheaval, finds hope in her new surroundings.
Laurel Croza is the author of the picture book I Know Here, illustrated by Matt James. It won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, among many other accolades. She also wrote the sequel, From There to Here. The Whirlpool is Laurel’s first short-story collection. She lives with her husband in Toronto.
Matt James is a painter, author/illustrator and musician whose many highly acclaimed children’s books include Yellow Moon, Apple Moon by Pamela Porter (New Mexico Book Award); I Know Here by Laurel Croza (Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award) and its companion volume, From There to Here; and The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson. Matt’s illustrations for Northwest Passage, a stunning tribute to the iconic Stan Rogers’ song, won the Governor General’s Literary Award. The Funeral is the first picture book he has written and illustrated. Matt lives in Toronto.
Little ones struggling to adjust to a new home or missing their old one will find comfort here.
This is a touching evocation of the mixed feelings of longing and hope that accompany a move. Recommended.
[E]xpressionistic acrylic and ink illustrations add depth to the story.
James’s naive style has an infectious, unfettered energy. Croza’s spare text captures the narrator’s feelings of displacement with poetic immediacy.
[A] low-key, emotionally true approach to a common and usually upsetting childhood experience.
The palette of the Toronto scenes is predominately blue-sky sunny, reflecting the story’s ultimate optimism . . . we know that the ride begun at the close of the book promises both amity and adventure.
[R]eaders will come to understand that while 'here' and 'there' are different, different is OK, especially when you have the support of a new friend.