A child with newly separated parents grapples with moving back and forth between their homes.
Ivan doesn’t want “to go There (his dad’s new house).” At Mama’s house (which he thinks of as “Here”), Ivan indulges his love of birds by feeding them and mimicking their calls and songs. But when he’s There, he’s still and quiet, refusing to engage with Dad and remaining silent when he hears birds. But when Dad plays his guitar, Ivan can’t resist. “He felt the way he did when Mama lifted him high to pick pears from the branches of their tree. He moved the way he did when Dad pushed him on a swing as high as the sun.” Dad invites Ivan to put words to the song, and he does, with a mishmash of bird calls, cheers, and the words “Here” and “There.” The father-and-son collaboration makes “There” feel more like a home, so much so that Ivan feels he’s lost something when he returns to Mama’s house. She notices he’s still and quiet and successfully draws him out. He hears birds, remembers the song, and sings it to Mama. Appropriately, this isn’t a happily-ever-after story but one that offers affirmation and hope for kids navigating parental separation. In Daviddi’s pencil, acrylic-paint, and collage illustrations Ivan and Mama both have brown skin and dark Afros while Dad presents white. There seems to be little attempt to represent the birds naturalistically, but there is a guide to the calls in the backmatter.
Needed everywhere. (Picture book. 4-8)