Written and Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa
Published by Grosset and Dunlap
All of us, be it adults or children, approach any change in our lives with mixed feelings. Be it a school change, a locality change, a move to another country- each of these experiences bring with them the excitement as well as some amount of nervousness.The anxiety about, how the people would be and whether we would be able to become a part of the new group comfortably, is quite normal.
The author Gyo Fujikawa has taken this significant emotion and come up with a beautiful children's book. Jenny is a fun loving little girl, who loves to collect old things from the people in her small neighbourhood. She uses these old dresses, hats, purses and tiny titbits for her play pretend games with two of her close friends- Sam and Nicholas. Reading about Jenny each time makes me pause and smile, as my five year old daughter does exactly the same things. My old duppatas, hand bags, purses, weave their way into her treasure chest and these get magically transformed into - a teacher making sure the children recite their alphabets one day, Sita of Ramayana the next day and a doctor advising her patients another day :-).
One day Jenny notices that one of the houses in their neighbourhood which had been empty for long, seemed to have new occupants.She earnestly wishes that a little girl like her, has moved in there. As she finishes her round of collecting old things from other houses, she notices a little girl peeking out of the windows of that house. Thrilled, she walks up to their door and knocks.But the girl does not open the door. Confused, she goes back to her friends Sam and Nicholas and explains what happened.
It is then that Sam suggests that may be the girl did not feel welcome in the new area. So they brain storm and come up with a brilliant idea. They decide to create a Welcome Wagon, filled with all their favourite things, to offer to the little girl as a welcome present. Armed with these goodies, the children go and invite the little girl to come out, saying they want to give her a welcome gift. The shy little Mei Su comes out and she is thrilled with all the knick knacks her new friends have brought her. The friendship is cemented right that day, with a lovely picnic. When the friends get ready to leave, Mei su says that she felt very sad when she had to move out of her old house, but now she is very happy to have been welcomed so lovingly into her new neighbourhood.
This was a feeling I could readily identify with, having moved last year to a new place.The gnawing feeling about leaving familiar people,apprehension about the new neighbours,the comfort feeling which slowly started enveloping me and finally a sense of relief, that comes with familiarity.
The illustrations are also by Gyo Fujikawa. The pictures of the characters are very expressive and even the houses that have been sketched exude a lot of personality.The pages alternate between colour and black-white sketches throughout the book. It is difficult to say which is more gorgeous, though the back and white sketches have an undeniable charm !
This is a cute little picture book which has been read many times in our house and is enjoyed by everyone.