I chose to buy I Know Here by Laurel Croza (CAN, JP, US) after it won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book award over Spork. I figured that if it won over the book I loved so much, then it must be a fantastic read.
I Know Here starts with a girl who lives in a place so small that there is only one road with trailers on either side and no grocery store. She knows and loves this little road, the nature that surrounds it, the people who make up her world, and even the pungent animal smells. But her brother has just announced that the construction project her father is working on is almost finished, and they will be moving to the big city of Toronto. A frightening prospect for anyone, but this protagonist is determined to keep a part of this place with her in the move. That's the beauty of this book- the small girl chooses a way to deal with her upsetting circumstance and shows the reader what they too could do in that situation.
The first-person narrative, with concise, emphatic sentences really works for this book. It lends an authenticity to the protagonist's voice, backed up by brilliant illustrations by Matt James. The bright colours and vibrant, exaggerated acrylic paintings look like a very good version of what a child would produce as a tribute to a place she loves.
I can definitely see why this is a multiple award winner. It is one of those rare picture books that is appealing to all ages. It would be fantastic as a going away gift for someone moving to a new place, but is an enjoyable read even without that connection.
This is the 15th book I read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.