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Laurel Croza spent her early childhood moving with her family from dam project to dam project in northern Saskatchewan. In I Know Here, she distills that experience into a simple, achingly beautiful picture book. The girl in the story has just heard that her family is going to move from their present home in northern Saskatchewan to the big city of Toronto – a place represented only as a big red star on a map and the image of a few tall buildings. “This is where I live. I don’t know Toronto. I know here,” she states.
The girl lists all the things she knows that are familiar to her about the particular place in the world that she calls home. The list includes the trailers she and the other dam workers’ families live in, the sound of the wolves in the woods, the caged fox that lives behind one of the trailers, the hill (good for tobogganing), and the creek (good for catching frogs). It also includes experiences, such as flying in a small plane, encountering a moose, watching a forest fire, and the special Sunday night when one of her neighbours set up a TV outside his trailer so they can all watch The Wonderful World of Disney.
These images are heartfelt, and blanketed in such a forlorn mixture of love and sadness that it’s hard to imagine they are not straight from Croza’s own memories. Illustrator Matt James uses a mixture of childlike lines and warm, inviting colours to bring the landscape of childhood to life.
Most of us have never lived in northern Saskatchewan or even seen a dam site, but we all know what home is, and what it feels like to have to leave it.
Don't miss the endpapers, a map of the central provinces, embellished with a child's priorities. (Roger Sutton Horn Book 2010-04-01)
...will resonate deeply with anyone who has had to move as a child. (Brenda Hoerle Guelph Mercury 2010-10-02)
...a beautifully wrought tale... (Susan Perren Globe and Mail 2010-03-20)
Kids facing their own wrenching upheavals will take heart in the girl’s celebration of her roots and what she knows about herself and the world, all of which give her strength to move on. (Hazel Rochman Booklist 2010-05-15)
...simple and profound... (David Barringer New York Times Book Review 2010-05-16)
This little book is not only a poignant treatment of home and stability making way for the unknown, it's a testament to the resilience of children. Laurel Croza, in her text, gives us a worthy protagonist as well as a glimpse of Canadiana most city kids will never experience ... it's a book worth buying. And sharing. (Bernie Goedhart Montreal Gazette 2010-07-04)
...a great tool for engaging students in discussions about Canadian geography, nature, dams, preservation of wilderness areas, change and descriptive writing. (Myra Junyk CM Magazine 2010-07-11)
Croza conveys beautifully the precise, multi-sensual awareness and familiarity that comes in childhood, in which knowledge of place can seem an inalienable part of identity. (Deirdre Baker Toronto Star 2010-06-06)
The simple, straightforward text is spot-on in capturing the child's sensibilities and feelings...A regional look at a universal slice of childhood. (Luann Toth SLJ 2010-10-01)
...a simple, achingly beautiful picture book. (Chelsea Donaldson Quill & Quire 2011-06-01)
...poignant... (Teaching by the Book 2011-09-11)
. . . will resonate with readers who have also had to leave the place they know and love. For readers who haven’t had to move, the story will help them appreciate the place they know all the more. (Worlds of Words, The University of Arizona College Education Review 2012-01-01)