Reviewed by Margaret Walden
By Eve Bunting, illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Candlewick Press, 2015. 32 pages. $15.99/hardcover. Recommended for ages 3–7.
Callie struggles with her feelings as she watches a yard sale take her favorite possessions, even her little bike. “It’s something to do with money,” Callie says to her next-door friend Sara. “We are moving to a small apartment.” As the sale progresses, everyone tries to help Callie. Even the man who buys her bike agrees to give it back “when,” as she says, “we get our house back.”
Near the sale’s end, a woman sets off a major crisis by teasing, “Aren’t you the cutest thing? Are you for sale?” After many tears, reassurances, and a round of family hugs, Callie is contented as she thinks of their new, small apartment and her new, fold-down bed in the living room. “But we will fit in our new place,” she says. “And we are taking us.”
Downsizing is difficult in the best of circumstances. Callie’s family is being forced to downsize, and moving is not fun. This is a story about an all-too-common happening for young children.
Eve Bunting portrays from a child’s perspective the difficulties of having to do it. Lauren Castillo’s warm ink-and-watercolor illustrations, reminiscent of coloring book art, are filled with details familiar to anyone who has done a yard sale.
Grownups may resist a catch in the throat as they read this aloud, but young children will gain some understanding. As is true with other stories by Bunting, each word is important in the telling of a story with an important theme. Friends believe in simplicity and sharing with those who have less. This small book can spark conversations about being nearly homeless with very few possessions. Quakers will relate to the theme of family love and togetherness through hard times. Where does strength come from? In this story, love is the answer.