I Know Here Hardcover – Mar 1 2010
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Quill & Quire
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)
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Top Customer Reviews
I know here is a child's view of everything around her that makes a place a home. Have the city kids seen the same things? The teacher suggests drawing a picture of something to remember. Rather than leaving memories behind they are drawn, and folded neatly, then hidden away in a pocket. A tangible way of taking all that's special with you: a beautiful well written story that children will readily relate to.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
She could smell the "fox's damp fur" before she smelled him, where a "good tobogganing hill" was, a creek that wound around the hill, and "the squishy spot by the beaver dam" where her sister caught frogs. That she knew. Toronto was something she didn't know anything about. It was the big red spot on the map and that was all she knew. She knew that the big yellow truck delivered groceries, that she was in grade three, that the dam was "built right across the North Saskatchewan River," and where her baby brother, Michael, was born. Did the people in Toronto know about where she lived? What could she take there that would remind her of her home?
This is a beautifully touching story of a little girl who has to leave her home to move to Toronto, a place that doesn't know her. Sometimes it is difficult for children to move to another place, especially if they have lived in one home all their lives. As the little girl so aptly states, "I know here." She didn't know Toronto, but would be taking memories with her. This is one of those sweet happy/sad things that has happened to a lot of us. The artwork is very appealing with a certain childlike quality that somehow emphasizes how important childhood memories are to all of us. This book was understandably a winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. If you are planning on moving, this is a very special book you might want to take a look at!
Selfishly, I thought that at such a young age the moves wouldn't have too much of an impact on him. Sadly, I was wrong.
The first move took him away from the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast beaches where he literally learned to walk barefoot in the sand. The second move took him away from his doting grandparents, and the final move removed him from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
The announcement of every move was met with tears and the refrains of "I like it here. I don't want to go." When it came time to leave, he unwillingly entered the family van and sadly waved goodbye to everything he had grown to love.
Perhaps this is why Laurel Croza's "I Know Here" struck so close to home with me. It's a children's book with a poignant story about a third-grade girl who lives in Canada's remote Saskatchewan region. One day, out of the blue, she learns that upon completion of her father's job working on a dam, the family will move across the country to Toronto.
"This is where I live. I don't know Toronto. I know here," is her immediate reply when informed by her brother of the news. She then goes on to describe with passion and underlying heartache all the things she knows and loves: the forest, the howling wolf, the squishy spot by the beaver dam where her little sister catches frogs and her school, which is in a trailer at the end of the road.
To help her cope with the move, her teacher has her draw a picture of something she has seen, something she would like to remember and take with her when she leaves. Inspired, the little girl draws pictures of everything she knows and folds the drawing tightly so it fits in her pocket so she can take it with her to her new home.
The book's touching, relevant illustrations by Matt James add to the poignancy of the story as he captures the rustic images of Canada and the melancholy feelings the girl experiences when she realizes she's leaving the only world she has ever known.
"I Know Here" is a moving tale of hope and resilience that will soothe the hearts of young and old alike who are facing a move. It offers the simple but inspiring message that saying goodbye doesn't mean you can't take the things you love and treasure with you safely in your memories.
Similarly, the young girl in this story faces similar anxieties. She wonders if the people in Toronto will know what it is like in Saskatchewan. As she says, "I know here," simple yet effective in conveying the fears and worries of having to move away from a place she has come to see as home. The moose, the howling wolf, the dear beloved hills, the road to home, these are all the familiar things the girl has to leave behind. Luckily, a wise teacher helps the little girl cope by encouraging her to draw the things she loves as a way of keeping them with her and `taking' them with her when she leaves. The subtle yet vivid illustrations complement the text beautifully. This is a poignant and bittersweet read for anyone who has ever had to move away from a place they have come to consider as home.
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