Ellis Smith, Tamara. Here and There. Evelyn Daviddi, Illus. Picture Book. Barefoot, 2019. pp. $16.99. 978-1-78285-741-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES K-2.
A young boy struggles to feel comfortable with a new living situation after his parents separate. This charming story addresses the tough topic of separation and divorce with care. The main character, Ivan, is allowed to explore his feelings on his own: he initially appears uncomfortable when he stays at his father’s and again when he returns to his mother’s. Neither parent is portrayed as angry, and they each greet Ivan with hugs as he navigates this new dynamic. Ivan’s love of bird calls and his father’s guitar help him to realize that he can have good feelings at each parent’s house. Back matter includes a list of the bird species shown in the book, along with the calls they make. The calming and detailed mixed-media illustrations feature a cool and neutral color palette. Ivan is shown with dark brown skin, dark curly hair, and rosy cheeks with freckles. The depiction of his parents indicates that he is mixed race, although this is not discussed. His mother is illustrated with dark skin and a dark, curly Afro, while his father is light-skinned with light brown hair, stubbled rosy cheeks, and visible tattoos. The mother’s clothing resembles styles from the ̓70s, but the lack of any depiction of technology gives the book a timeless feel. Here and There is a caring and thoughtful story on a difficult subject and will be comforting to young readers who may be facing similar circumstances.
Solia Martinez-Jacobs, San Jose State University, iSchool