CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 25. . . .February 28, 2014
The young heroine of From There to Here has just moved. She loved her wilderness home in northern Saskatchewan where her father was helping to build a dam to provide electricity for the prairies. The family has moved to Toronto because her father is helping to build a highway in Toronto. She misses living in a place “carved into the middle of the bush.” It is not until her neighbour, Anne, invites her out for a bike ride that the young heroine of this picture book starts to smile. She realizes that “It was different there. Not the same as here.”
From There to Here is the much anticipated sequel to I Know Here, which won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award as well as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. This new picture book picks up the story of the young girl as she arrives in Toronto. Laurel Croza lived at several different dam sights when she was a child, and she draws on memories of her move from Saskatchewan to Toronto in this picture book. The comparisons between the pristine environment of northern Saskatchewan and urban Toronto are skilfully crafted. Readers will be inspired to ask questions such as: How does our environment impact us? What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in an urban environment? How is living in the wilderness different from living in the city?
The wonderful illustrations of Matt James show our heroine coming to terms with her new home in Toronto. On each page, the colour red provides a unifying element since the heroine wears red throughout. Several other objects also pick up this element – the red truck, the stop sign, the aurora borealis, Anne’s red bicycle, and the “red star” which symbolizes Toronto on the map in the endpapers. Readers should definitely notice the marvellous endpapers which provide a map of the journey from the Prairies to Toronto with lots of interesting geographical information about Canada.
The vocabulary of this picture book is simple and easy to understand. The narrator frequently speaks in phrases rather than sentences, i.e. “There.” “No fences.” “Or front yards.” The writer’s purpose in using this technique is to reflect the young heroine’s inner thoughts as she sorts through the realities of her new environment. In a classroom setting, this picture book could also be a great tool for engaging students in discussions about Canadian geography, urban environment, nature, adapting to change, making friends and descriptive writing.
Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.
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