Goodbye Old House by Margaret Wild

Cover image for Goodbye, Old House.

Goodbye, Old House by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ann James (9781736226452)

A child knows they are moving, so proceeds to say goodbye to their old home. It’s the last time they will fish in the river, the last time to run through the trees, the last time to pet this pony. It’s the last time to lay by this fire, the last time to sleep in this house. They say goodbye to each room from the hall, leaving a message for the new owners on the wall. Then it’s time for a lot of first moments. The first time to jump over these cracks, the first time to push open the gate, and the first time entering the new house. They say hello to all of the new rooms from the hall. They discover a window seat in their new room, complete with a message from the previous child who lived there.

Wild is a master storyteller. In this picture book she takes very simple lines of farewell and discovery and turns them into a story that is immensely poignant. The angst of moving, of losing all the beloved elements of your life comes full circle here as the child celebrates the current moment of firsts and hellos to their new home. The text is utter simplicity, allowing the emotions to come through without being described at all.

The illustrations by James are captivating. She shows the androgynous child and their homes in stark black and white with engaging expressions and body language. Beyond the windows of the homes and outside, the world is awash is color from the watercolor of the flowing river to the sun on the hills to the orangey tones of the new home.

A moving book that takes time to deal with goodbyes but also celebrates new discoveries too. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Blue Dot Kids Press.

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper

Cover image for Bad Sister.

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Rory Lucey (9781250219060)

Released September 14, 2021.

This graphic novel memoir explores what happens when you are an older sister with far too many creative ideas. Charise and Daniel love spending time together, even though Daniel often gets hurt. Charise has a lot of powers, like the power of the trick where Daniel ended up eating cat food. She used the power of games to get her way a lot, though Daniel could also use them to bother her. There is also the power of lying, when Charise let Daniel take the blame, at least at first. When Daniel ends up breaking his tooth though, Charise decides she has to do better as a big sister. Luckily, she has a younger brother willing to forgive her and let her try to be a good sister. Though that may be more complicated than she realizes.

It is so refreshing to see a complex and layered depiction of being siblings. Here, there is clearly a lot of love between the two siblings. That foundation is what lets them take a lot of risky behaviors together, making their bond even tighter with the secrets they keep from their parents. When Daniel ends up getting bashed, banged, thrown and more, the two continue to spend time together, showing how much they actually enjoy one another. Through her memoir, Charise shows that change is possible, even if it still means that Daniel might still get hurt. It’s her intentions and responses that mature along the way.

Lucey’s illustrations are perfect. They unflinchingly show the build up towards near disasters and true disasters that we will all recognize from our own childhoods whether egged on by a big sister or not. The illustrations also show the huge grins as the siblings plot together about what to attempt next and the changing dynamic between them as Charise learns to be less of a bad sister.

Full of laughter, gasps and accidents, this is a great graphic novel memoir. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by First Second.