YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN
Reviewed by Marion Scott
Reviewed by Marion Scott
Volume 22 Number 5
Jirina Marion's latest picture-book explores the connection a young Canadian child feels with her mother's European heritage. Annie loves to hear stories of her mother's childhood. On the day her mother's home country regains its freedom, she hears a very special one. Annie's mom tells of her Uncle Billy, Aunt Anna, and their "fairytale house" with its many treasures. In particular, she recalls a set of ebony elephants with which she played. She also reveals that all this was lost in the war. Annie's mom was sent somewhere safe, but her father, aunt and uncle, who remained behind, died.
Haunted by the story, Annie prompts the family to visit her mother's country. Here, she is determined to find the lost elephants. Improbably, her belief and determination are rewarded: on the last day of their visit, a lucky coincidence restores the elephants to Annie's family.
Told in the first person by Annie, the story is at a level which can readily be appreciated by the picture-book audience. The story unfolds slowly through description and memory, but it is not without shape. The motif of the elephants provides both a focal point and a satisfying conclusion. While the story is not overtly dramatic, it does draw the reader in and will strike a chord with children whose families have stories and memories from other places.
The illustrations are in Marton's familiar naive style with her soft lines and colours. Like the story, they are understated. Deep blues, soft greys and orange-reds predomi-nate. Architectural details contribute to an "old world" feeling.
Marton has won recognition both as an illustrator and as an author. You Can Go Home Again is autobiographical. She is originally from Prague and the story is rooted in the circumstances of her own first return visit to her home country.
You Can Go Home Again is probably not a "must" purchase for all libraries. Nonetheless, it is a solid second choice, and, given the relevance of its theme, a title that deserves serious consideration for libraries serving communities with a large multicultural element.
Marion Scott is a children's librarian with the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario.
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