The heart of home

Home. The word conjures up vivid images and, oftentimes, conflicting emotions. We may be anxious to leave home or long to return. It might be a particular house, neighbourhood or town. It could evoke memories of boisterous family gatherings or of a quiet, cosy place to find peace and solitude. Home means different things to different people while still being a concept that resonates in some way with everyone.
Saku’s Great Newfoundland Adventure. Illustration courtesy of Flanker Press.

Books can provide a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to the subjectivity of “home.” It is as much an experience as a physical place, and unsurprisingly, “home” lays at the heart of many stories. In four new children’s releases, home is explored, with lessons to learn and joys to celebrate.

In Sid the Kid and the Dryer, we see how a house can truly be a home for a young boy like Sidney Crosby. For some, the house where they grow up is a haven, a place to retreat from the rest of their world and truly be themselves. In Sidney’s case, it is where he dreams of being the greatest hockey player. He gets discouraged, but, here in this safe and private space, he learns that it is okay to make mistakes, and he finds the encouragement to pursue his dreams. Such is the power of home.

Meanwhile, journeys often help develop an appreciation for the joys and comforts of home, as in Saku’s Great Newfoundland Adventure. This travelogue portrays the grueling conditions that a Cape Shore water dog and his master encountered on their expedition and the exhilaration they both experienced as they let the Newfoundland wilderness become their home for over two months. While Saku accepts this new version of home, his excitement as he and his master finally return to their St. John’s home is heartwarming. Similarly, many children must leave their homes behind, for various reasons. Adapting to different surroundings is a valuable life skill, but most readers will appreciate the sense of joy and relief when one finds oneself home at last.

And what about new homes? Adjusting to unfamiliar surroundings can be a challenge for people of any age, and sometimes, even birds! In Paint the Town Pink, a flamingo wonders if a certain town might make a perfect new home. But there is more to home than just a pretty place. Young readers will recognize Rose’s need to determine if she can fit in in this place, for home is not just a building or a city or a spot on a map. It is also the people, and a sense of belonging. Ultimately for Rose, it is the townspeople and their warmth, their efforts to create a place for her that make this town home and that demonstrate that we, too, can make new homes for ourselves, with support, encouragement and openness.

There are also times when someone leaves home and/or loses their way, as in Sydney Smith’s Small in the City. The simple, poignant text, coupled with evocative illustrations, leads readers on a tour of one boy’s city home. Together, words and images create an eloquent portrait of his urban home: the frenzy and relentlessness; the towering buildings and jostling crowds; the motion and mayhem. But they also provide a more intimate look at home: the shortcuts and alleyways, the best hiding places and other quiet but touching observations about this place. All in the hopes that perhaps someone will find their way back home.

The circumstances and definitions of home as well as the feelings that it evokes vary enormously…which is precisely why home is so profoundly satisfying to write and read about!

Sharing these four stories with children will give adult readers and young listeners alike the chance to think about what home means to them, and to savour the wonder and  whimsy of each one. ■

More on the books….

 

Sid the Kid and the Dryer: A Story About Sidney Crosby
by Lesley Choyce, illustrated by Brenda Jones
(Nimbus Publishing)

When a Whirlpool dryer comes to live in the Crosby household, it gets to witness firsthand all of young Sidney’s passion for hockey as well as his doubts and fears.

 

 

Paint the Town Pink
written and illustrated by Lori Doody
(Running the Goat Books and Broadsides)

An unexpected visitor must decide if this new town will make a perfect new home for her. The townspeople go to great lengths to welcome her and to convince her to stay.

 

Small in the City
written and illustrated by Sydney Smith
(Groundwood Books)

A child wanders through his city’s busy streets, navigating traffic and construction and never-ending crowds of people. But amidst the cacophony of everyday city life, there are also hidden spaces, and the people and places that make this otherwise overwhelming urban jungle a home.

 

Saku’s Great Newfoundland Adventure
by Marie-Beth Wright, illustrated by Corey Majeau
(Flanker Press)

A Cape Shore water dog joyfully relates the true story of how he and his master, Justin, embarked on a journey across Newfoundland, back to their home in St. John’s.

 

Written By

Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

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