• Grace McKinney

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Some News and Some Books About Moving

We've been packing lots of boxes in the Cosmic team's apartments lately. Gaby and her husband recently moved to a new place in the Boston area and are still settling in (as is their dog, to whom stairs present a challenge), but I'll be going a little further pretty soon. I'm headed to St. Louis, MO, to continue my Montessori training, and from there I'll stay on to join a school there. There's a whole lot of bitter and a big bunch of sweet in this big move, and it's something I'm still not really sure what to think of.

I stayed in the same home till I was thirteen, and the distress I felt the night before we moved to a new house is still pretty deeply embedded in my memory. I remember lying on my bare mattress in my empty room the night before we left, weeping myself to sleep. The next day, we moved to a house that I could have walked to in about seven minutes.

Even though the "move" itself wasn't far, my sense of place and stability had to undergo what felt like a seismic shift. All my memories and secret hiding places and favorite trees were in one place—how would I find new ones? My move as a child didn't require me to make new friends or change schools or learn a new language, but that's not the case for so many people. As we know from the movie Inside Out, moving to a new home can even seem like everything's ruined—even pizza.

As I prepared for my own big change, I started looking for books for children that incorporated a character experiencing a move to a new place. What I found? That the children in these books had the very same questions and fears that I have now. What makes a home, and how do I find it?

A New Home by Tania de Regil

(Ages 3-6) This picture book is told simultaneously from the perspective of a little boy moving from New York to Mexico City and a little girl moving in the opposite direction. They ask the same questions ("What if there is nowhere to play in my new city?") and go through the same emotions, showing that the place they're leaving and the place they're arriving are already home to somebody—it's just waiting for them to find it.

Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas by Juana Medina

(Ages 6-9) A most welcome sequel to Medina's first Juana book, this one addresses a big change—ahem, problema—for Juana. Her mom is spending much more time on her hair, and much less time at home. When Juana meets Mama's new friend Luis, she has to get comfortable pretty quickly with some changes: they're getting married, and they're moving to Luis's house. Juana processes all the exciting and hard things about these changes in a frank but ultimately hopeful way, inviting the idea that change doesn't have to be a problema.

Bad Bye Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean

(Ages 0-3, 3-6) The tone of this spare picture book shifts drastically from beginning to end—a very upset child with a stormy disposition sits gruffly in the back of his family's car as they head out on a road trip. Slowly but surely the tide turns, and the child finds a little hope, a little excitement, and a little home in his new surroundings. A beautiful book for younger readers for whom the concept of moving can be jarring and upsetting.

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

(Ages 3-6, 6-9) From the other side of the moving coin, Miyares' wordless picture book shows a young girl's perspective on her just-arrived neighbor, beginning with peeks over and around, just to catch a glimpse. The boy's busy with something, and slowly but surely her peeking becomes playing, and the two create something wonderful: a new treehouse and a new friendship. Color sprays fill the black-and-white palette to parallel the excitement and hope the children feel in their new beginning.

Home is a Window By Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, illustrated by Chris Sasaki

(Ages 3-6) This endearing book begins with the familiar: “Home is a window, / a doorway, / a rug, / a basket for your shoes. / Home is / Hello, sweet pea, / and a hug, / a little bit of green, / a corner, and a chair.” But, as the rug and the basket and chair are packed into boxes, the definition of home changes with it—though initially grounded in place, home, through Ledyard's rhythmic text, becomes something a little more portable. Rich in illustrative detail and emotion, Home is a Window serves as a gentle companion along the way to a new idea about home.

A quick P.S.—Don't worry! A move has nothing on us. The blog, with a little reimagining, will stick around no matter where the team ends up. Thanks for reading with us, and we're excited for this new chapter.

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