Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away
Written by Meg Medina
Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Candlewick Press, 2020, 32 pp
Meg Medina pulls at readers’ heart strings as she reminisces about the importance of true friendship between two girls, Evelyn and Daniela, who are around the age of six or seven. We are introduced to Evelyn del Rey through the eyes of her best friend Daniela, “Evelyn del Rey is my mejor amiga, my número uno best friend”. The two girls live directly across from one another in apartments in the city.
As the pages of vibrant colors turn, the fall leaves almost jump off the page, leaving readers with a sense of the season. A moving van pulls up outside, showing brown cardboard boxes labeled with Evelyn’s name and other odds and ends belonging to the family. Daniela is seen walking by with a look of sadness across her precious face.
The story of the beloved friendship continues with Daniela making her way to Evelyn’s apartment. Through the eyes of Daniela and Evelyn, it almost feels as though you are inside with both girls viewing patterned wallpaper, iron stairs, and neighbors passing by as they go to Evelyn’s apartment. There you find her pleasant, hard working mother, with bright clothes, finishing up packing the remaining boxes.
Daniela points out that she and Evelyn are like twins with a few exceptions. She says, “The walls in Evelyn’s room are sunny yellow, while mine are pink like cotton candy”. Daniela also paints a picture of the differences in their families, as she lives with her mami and hamster. Evelyn has a mami, papi, and cat.
Moving forward in the touching story, we find Daniela and Evelyn determining what they can create using an empty moving box. Daniela pretends to be a bus driver traveling about the busy city, moving past skyscrapers that are really beds. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. It is Evelyn’s and Daniela’s mothers. They quickly hide. Daniela’s mother calls for her to leave. The girls spin in circles, round and round, until it is time to go for the last time. Finally, the two make a plan to stay in touch, discussing summer visits and sleepovers.
Readers are left with a poignant ending, when the girls find some spare, sparkly stickers in the corner of Evelyn’s room. Both Daniela and Evelyn press a glittery heart and butterfly sticker to each other’s cheeks, taking a picture using, “¡Patata!” embracing one last time. Evelyn has moved away. Daniela’s mami hugs her as she thinks of Evelyn, “I know she will always be my first mejor amiga, my numero uno best friend”. The last page leaves us with a grownup Daniela looking fondly at a box of memories of her and Evelyn.
Author Meg Medina won the Jumpstart Read for the Record Selection (2020) award for this book, increasing awareness for critical and early literacy. Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away is a high-quality, culturally responsive children’s book in which readers experience diverse Latinx characters and Spanish words interwoven with English. Whether they are familiar with Spanish, or it is new to them, the story delights and engages even the youngest reader. The colorful illustrations along with the endearing story of friendship and family capture the attention of all.
Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away can be paired with titles that emphasize friendship in the face of separation. Four Feet, Two Sandals (Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Mohammed, and Doug Chayka, 2007) describes friends in a refugee camp. Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes (Jef Aerts and Sanne te Loo, 2020) is the story of Adin and Dina who are separated by a move but creatively manage to stay connected by way of paper planes and cherry pits growing into cherry trees.
Meg Medina’s most recent books are the novels, Merci Suárez Changes Gears (2019) and Burn Baby Burn (2016), and the picturebook Mango, Abuela, and Me (2016). She has received a multitude of writing awards, including the Newbery Medal, a Charlotte Huck Honor, the Pura Belpré, and the Ezra Jack Keats award for new writers. Medina also supports many community projects for girls, Latinx youth, and literacy. More information about Meg can be found on her website.
Sonia Sánchez is an accomplished illustrator. In addition to Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away, her recent illustrations can be found in A Crazy-Much Love (Joy Jordan-Lake, 2019), Raisins and Almonds (Susan Taracov, 2019), My Quiet Ship (Hallee Adelman, 2018), and The Little Red Fort (Brenda Maier, 2018). Sonia has received several honors for her illustrations. Her book Here I Am (Patti Kim, 2013) was a Kirkus Best Book of the Year. Sonia Sánchez is from Barcelona and lives with her husband, son, and cat near the Mediterranean Sea. More information about Sonia can be found at her website.
Darci L. Gueta, Texas A&M, Commerce