Underwood explores the range of emotions a child moving to a new place may feel with a spare, rhyming text that creates a framework for Bean’s evocative illustrations.
An overbearing gray pall pulls readers into a young boy’s world of frustration, anger and hurt over moving. Pencil drawings with graphically stylized flat areas of color give detail to the four words of text per spread. “Bad mop / Bad blocks // Bad truck / Bad guy” (this last is the man loading the family’s belongings into the van). A car chugs through a changing landscape as the boy throws a tantrum, sleeps, brightens and hesitates. Bean effectively layers tones and imagery to depict the passage of time and bring forth the immediacy of a situation. As the boy enters his new house at night, there’s sensory overload, with light, shadows and the unfamiliar, creating an unsettling feel. But all ends well when a new acquaintance becomes a friend. Not every family or child may experience such negative emotions, but Underwood and Bean offer a potential tool for teaching empathy toward others who have made such a transition.
This is a useful depiction of a family’s physical move, but the strength is in the emotional journey that’s expressed with a raw honesty. (Picture book. 4-8)