A Picture Book Looks a Modern Issue in the Eye

BookendsLynn: The story Eve Bunting tells in Yard Sale (2015) is one that many young readers will recognize and relate to. Callie’s family is moving to a small apartment and almost everything they own is spread out in front of the house for a yard sale. Callie and her friend don’t understand why she has to leave their house. She tells her friend, “It’s something to do with money.”

Yard saleBunting and illustrator Lauren Castillo relate this all-too-common event with sensitivity and understanding, expertly conveying young Callie’s confusion and sadness. When a buyer complains about crayon marks on a headboard, Callie wishes she hadn’t put them there to count each time she read Good Night Moon, and her anger flares when she sees a man loading up her bicycle.  Through each incident, Callie’s parents reassure her, but a woman’s unthinking joke underscores the real fear in this situation for young children. Again, Callie’s parents comfort her that the family will be together and that the only thing they really need is each other.

Castillo’s warm illustrations are done in ink and watercolor, but provide a crayon-like feel that reinforces the terrific child-centered focus of the story. Subtle and oh so moving, Yard Sale brought tears to my eyes.

Cindy: I vividly remember having to leave behind a metal pedal-car firetruck when my family moved when I was four. I’m not sure if I loved the truck as much as I hated leaving it with the neighborhood bully who was so mean to me. Children feel things strongly, and Bunting and Castillo team up beautifully to bring those feelings to life. When a woman at the sale teases, “Aren’t you just the cutest thing? … Are you for sale?” Callie feels a shiver from head to toe. A thoughtless but innocent remark by an adult can be frightening to a young child who doesn’t understand the “joke.” The reassurance Callie seeks and receives from her parents will melt your heart. The focus shifts from the importance of “things” to relationships and family. This story will comfort children and the adults who share it with them.



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.

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