Following the spare, deeply felt I Know Here (2010), a just-moved child compares her old home in rural Saskatchewan to her new Toronto one.
“It’s different here,” she begins. Instead of tall trees, the aurora borealis and trailers parked by the roadside, she sees tall buildings, lawns, streetlights and paved roads. There are other changes too: Her big brother can take a bus into town, and her father, working on a highway project rather than a dam, doesn’t come home for lunch now. Using thickly daubed brushwork and roughly drawn figures to give his illustrations a childlike atmosphere, James echoes the child’s ruminative observations with contrasting city and forest scenes. Though the city seems to suffer in comparison, a knock at the door brings one difference that casts all the others in a more positive light: a new friend who is also “[e]ight, almost nine.” “It was different there,” she concludes, with a subtle but significant shift of emphasis. “Not the same as here.”
Once again, a low-key, emotionally true approach to a common and usually upsetting childhood experience. (Picture book. 6-8)