Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley (InfoSoup)

The author of Boats for Papa returns with another poignant picture book. Hedgehog’s family is moving away. They are packing boxes and getting ready to leave. Hedgehog and her best friend Anteater decide to spend one last time playing together. They act as if nothing is changing at all, playing on the swings, heading out in the boat, sharing ice cream and enjoying their forts. Hedgehog is scared to leave and saying goodbye is very sad. But once she reaches her new home, Anteater is still right there in her memories.

Bagley has an incredible way with telling touching stories. Her deftness with these tender moments is all about the balance of emotion with not overplaying it into sentimentality. In this picture book, she balances the angst of moving with the idea that best friends can survive moving apart. While there is real emotion in leaving there is also a light of hope at the end that is so beautifully timed that it shines.

Bagley’s animal characters are pure bundles of personality, demonstrating emotions clearly, sometimes sulking and sad and other times bouncing in happiness. Her world is filled with color and her illustrations range from pages filled with details to smaller discreet moments. The interplay between the two work very well as the characters form memories with one another.

A lovely book about moving away from a best friend, this book handles the subject with gentleness and pure heart. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

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