I Know Here by Laurel Croza

42528643Lynn: When a little girl learns that her family is moving she voices the truth that all of us – child or adult – feel about such a change:

This is where I live.  I don’t know Toronto.  I know here.

Could there be a better more child-appropriate way to sum up those complex emotions?  The simple but evocative text in I Know Here (Groundwood 2010) goes on to tell us about the things the girl knows and loves in Saskatchewan where her father works building a dam.  There are the pine needles under her feet, the sound of wolves howling and the squishy spot by the beaver dam where her little sister catches frogs.  At school, the girl’s teacher suggests the class draw pictures of something they would want to remember.  Reassured, the little girl decides to draw all the things she knows so that she can keep the drawing safe in her pocket and take it with her when she leaves.  Matt James’ unique india ink and acrylic illustrations mirror and amplify the simple drawing style of a child and add a sense of immediacy to what is already a remarkably accessible and honest book.

I loved this book from the start and was eager to see if our focus group would like it as much as I thought they would.  They’ve not had to move to a new town but they’ve experienced a lot of change in their young lives and this book speaks so wonderfully to that uncertainty.  They did love it and it sparked a flurry of drawing at our house of things we always want to remember. We donate a large portion of the books we receive from publishers to our local school district but this is one the boys wanted to keep.

Here’s a book that can be a wonderful discussion starter, writing prompt or a bridge to wider curriculum topics such as community or immigration.

Cindy:  I’m enchanted by this book too, but I’m not sure what Lynn has left me to say about it. Scrambling, I searched for information about the author and illustrator on the web and came up with Laurel Croza’s website, illustrated by Matt James. She has a funny interview posted, conducted by her children with comments from her husband. I would like to know where she got one of my family photos to post. I’m fairly sure that I am the baby on the right sitting on the couch… And if you like Matt’s art as much as we do, check out his website where you can see his other paintings.

I agree with Lynn that this book is a great jump start for art projects and the primitive folk art feel of it will encourage young artists to try their hand at capturing their own favorite things. This story will join my favorites, Janey by Charlotte Zolotow and What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan, as another powerful story about moving and leaving behind something you love…and something you know. Do you have a favorite story about moving…one that you give as a gift when someone you love is leaving you or one you share with a child to ease the pain of moving? Tell us…

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "I Know Here by Laurel Croza"

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  1. lisabigjohn@yahoo.com' Lisa Har says:

    I live in an expat community. I always give the little ones A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn as a leaving gift. I am excited to check out these other titles as well.

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