#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Monday Reading] To All The Evelyns Who Left Their Homes and Friends Behind In 2020 Picturebooks

"In A Jar" by Deborah Marcero and "Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away" by Meg Medina and Sonia Sanchez.


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. 

A week ago, we launched our reading theme for April – June 2021. We are on the look-out for books with the following themes:

  1. Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance

  2. Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion

  3. Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes

  4. Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes

  5. Narratives of loss and dispossession

In A Jar [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Deborah Marcero
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 0525514597 (ISBN13: 9780525514596). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I read this book a year ago when Fats featured it as one of her favourite quarantine reads. I was thrilled to find it on Overdrive, and I shared the title when I delivered an online session for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content last year. The story introduces the reader to two young creatures named Llewelyn and Evelyn.

The two friends collected things “you might not think would even fit in a jar”, like the shadows of summer, the wonders of winter, the newness of spring. This capacity for awe and wonder was what made the story truly work for me – the whimsical nature of the narrative, and the ability to capture beauty where one finds it.

Soon enough they have to say goodbye to each other, with Evelyn having to leave her home and her friend behind.

The story reveals the aching hollow in one’s heart brought about by parting of ways, and what it means to fill that space once again with the night skies and the evening sounds of one’s new home.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Meg Medina Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Published by Candlewick Press (2020)
ISBN: 1536207047 (ISBN13: 9781536207040) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

In this story, another Evelyn is leaving home and friend behind. Spoken in the voice of Daniela, this is a gentle story depicting the bonds of friendship and the joy it brings.

From the beginning of the narrative (and as can be easily deduced from the title of the book), it is clear that Evelyn Del Rey’s family is moving away. I like the little details that are included in the story: from the visual atmosphere that permeates the pages to the very strong sense of place and rootedness that grounds the story, notwithstanding the inevitable sense of moving away.

There is a clear depiction of how Evelyn Del Rey and her family had truly left a significant mark in this place, deep enough to be keenly felt by Daniela and the rest of their neighbors – as they pack their boxes of belongings and move elsewhere.

There is simplicity in the text that belies a truth that can only be conveyed in a child’s heartfelt voice: sorrow but also a hopeful note of what is to come, notwithstanding the differences in circumstances. While I have featured quite a number of stories previously about children in transition (see here), I believe that this one may be my favourite yet.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 31 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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