[Monday Reading] Journeys Far From Home and Back in Picturebooks “That Neighbor Kid” and “Life Without Nico”

IMWAYR

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

These two picturebooks are fairly recent – one is published in 2016 and the other in 2017. Both speak about transition, journeys, and what is it like to find home somewhere in the world.


Life Without Nico

Written By: Andrea Maturana Illustrated by: Francisco Javier Olea
Published by: Kids Can Press, 2016. Originally published in Mexico under the title La Vida Sin Santi by Fondo De Cultura Economica.
ISBN: 1771386118 (ISBN13: 9781771386111)Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This is a story of two friends Nico and Maia who love spending time with each other. Until the time that Nico had to go away to continue his studies elsewhere.

Nico’s absence left a gaping hole in Maia’s life, which followed her everywhere, the space growing bigger each day.

I feel that what made this picturebook work so well for me is the sparse text, distilled to its utmost truth, and complemented with such simple, yet heartfelt drawings that spoke volumes. There is also a coherence to the images, symbolism, and the narrative with all its complexities and layers that are just begging to be unpacked and discussed with students in the classroom.

I read a few Goodreads reviews that perceived this book as somewhat simplistic. But then again, I would disagree and claim that this book will have different ways of reaching each reader who will most likely take away something different from it, depending on where they are in their lives. I personally thought that the ending, while it may be misconstrued as unrealistic by most, I found to be especially comforting. For people like me and my teenage daughter who find home where the books are, it is a comforting thought that there are people whom we can always return to and pick up where we left off – isn’t that what finding home is all about?

That Neighbor Kid

Written and Illustrated By: Daniel Miyares
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2017
ISBN: 1481449796 (ISBN13: 9781481449793)Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Practically wordless, Daniel Miyares (of Float fame) returns with this exquisite story of a boy who just moved in from a different place, and finding home in a new community.

In his process of building something that provides him safety and comfort, a curious girl gravitated quite naturally to this place that gave sanctuary to them both, and a lovely friendship blossomed.

As can be seen in the image above, the use of colours is striking, especially with the monochrome backdrop – further emphasizing the radiant friendship that is developing between these two young children, brought together by a few wood planks, an upside down book, and a sturdy tree.

Once again, I am moved by the story’s utter simplicity – of two young people finding each other, building something together, and reaching out to each other in friendship. Does that make the world a brighter place, somewhat?
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  1. The Neighbor Kid sounds good, I will get it for my great niece when she gets a little older.

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  2. I’m so glad my library hast Life Without Nico. The older I get the more I realize that there are those people who we can always return to pick up as though we haven’t been away at all. These are my best friends. I loved That Neighbour Kid, but I love everything Daniel Miyares does anyway.

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  3. Picture books about friendship are beautiful when done well, acknowledging the emotional depth that children have. Those two look like they nail it!

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  4. I am adding Life without Nico to my wishlist. Come see what I’m reading

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  5. Two great looking picks!

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  6. That Neighbor Kid is just lovely. Life Without Nico sounds like a great one too. Thanks!

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