From There to Here
Written by Laurel Croza; Illustrated by Matt James
Groundwood Books, 2014, 32 pp.
It’s different here, not the same as there. (np)
Moving from one place to another is a common occurrence for many young people. As part of an ever growing mobile society, a young Canadian girl finds herself leaving Saskatchewan when her father’s work requires the family to move to Ontario. Comparing her new life in Toronto to her life in Saskatoon, the young narrator notices that her father’s work is different, that her mother uses different words to describe their world, and that even the name of where her new home is located, on a street not a road, is different. The environment and the family activities are different. Life is different between there and here, but eventually the young protagonist learns that life is different there from here. The subtly of language portrays her acclimation to her new home.
This is a terrific book for anyone who has experienced changes from one place to another. The juxtaposition of how the protagonist’s world has changed from one location to another, including the environment, the language, and family cultural experiences, allows readers to ponder how culture is an essential part of a place and cultural understandings change from place to place. Learning those differences can be helpful in making the transition from location to location easier. In fact, the book can facilitate discussion about how any place could be viewed as a cultural experience, whether one is an insider, outsider, or someone transitioning from one stance to the other. The book has colorful illustrations that aptly portray some of the differences suggested by the written text. A lovely picture book with illustrations done in India ink on panel and then colored using acrylic paint, the book is available in both paper and electronic formatting.
A wonderful book that simultaneously celebrates a child’s roots as well as her growing understandings of her new home, this would make a great addition to a text set on understanding how differences make a much more interesting world. It would pair nicely with books such as Norman, Speak! (Caroline Adderson, 2014), The Geese March in Step (Jean-Francois Dumont, 2014), Not My Girl (Christy Jordan-Fenton, 2014) or Cuckoo! (Jeannie Robertson, 2014).
Laurel Croza lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As a child, she moved nine times and attended numerous schools. From There to Here follows her first book, I Know Here, which was the Winner of the 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award; the 2011 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award; and the 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature: Picture Book. More information about Croza can be found her website.
Matt James is a painter, musician, and illustrator who also lives in Toronto, Canada. He has illustrated a number of picture books, including Yellow Moon, Apple Moon (2008) and Northwest Passage (2013), which won the Governor General Award for Illustration. More information about James can be found at his website.
Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Ohio