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This week’s children’s book review is all about Everything Naomi Loved by
11th Street: it wasn’t pretty, but it was home. Naomi spends her afternoons scooting down the streets and drawing with chalk on the sidewalks with her best friend Ada, getting a slice of pizza and visiting her neighbour Mister Ray at his auto shop, and dreaming of fantastic worlds within her own.
But her beloved neighbourhood is changing. Trees are chopped down, flashy new buildings spring up, and one by one Naomi’s neighbours are forced to move away. Faced with the rapid transformation of her once-familiar city block, Naomi turns to painting murals to preserve her favourite 11th Street memories. When something we love goes away we paint it on the wall so it’s always with us, Mister Ray tells her, and Naomi discovers that no matter how her world changes, as long as she has places and people to love, she will always have a home.
Change can be a really hard thing for children to deal with, especially if they don’t really understand why some things are happening. It can also be hard for parents to explain these changes and to make children feel a bit better, or even happier, about them. In this book, Naomi’s beloved 11th Street begins to change and the things and places she loves so much start to go away and this is all new for her.
The illustrations in the book really help to emphasise just how Naomi sees her neighbourhood. From her best friend, to a big tree, to the selection of shops and services they provide, there is so much colour in this book and it’s quite beautiful to look through.
One of the first things to go is a big, beautiful tree that meant a lot to Naomi and her best friend Ada. They had so many fun times playing with and around it. Instead of being really sad about the tree, about something new being built in it’s place, Mister Ray suggests painting a tree on the wall instead. He shares a tradition from where he grew up, showing Naomi that there are ways to remember things that have gone away.
Everything Naomi Loved is such a great book for children if they’re maybe about to move house, move school or something similar. We can teach children that memories (and sometimes physical items) can be taken along with us to help us remember the things that we’ve loved.