Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Going and Coming: Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood





It's a dark day when a boy and his little sister watch their toy box disappear inside the maw of a moving truck. Even the dog is downhearted. The last wave to their next-door neighbors is a sad bye, a bad bye.

In a driving rain they follow the mover's truck away from their pretty white-shuttered house, both children tearful and their parents looking grim, as the hot and heavily loaded car hits the highway.

But the gray, gloomy rain gives way to sunshine as their highway flows through yellow fields, past interesting windmills and water towers. A rest stop gives their dog a chance to meet up with a friendly hound on the dog walk, and a backseat nap cheers the kids up. A nice lady trucker with furry pink dice in her pink cab honks her horn for them, and an overnight motel stop offers a cool dip in the pool.

Back on the road, funny signs (DINAH'S DINA, AntiQues) and car games pass the time until at twilight, they find themselves in their new town, rolling down their new street to their new house, where the tired movers are already rolling down their ramp to unload. A boy with a dog waves from the house next door, and one of the movers tosses a ball from the toy box for the two dogs to chase.

The chase leads the two boys to a tree filled with blinking fireflies and steps nailed up its trunk lead to seats on the branches above. And by the time the beds are unloaded and the moving truck pulls away into the dark, it's time to wave a goodbye that really means "See you tomorrow!" to a new friend.




Deborah Underwood's latest, Bad Bye, Good Bye (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) captures the bad times-good times of a cross-country move in her typically evocative spare verse. With only two words per page, she says it all about leaving home and finding a home, with the help of Jonathan Bean's eloquent art. With illustrations that move relentlessly from left to right throughout the journey, Bean only reverses the flow near the ending, with the ball thrown right to left for the dogs, signalling that the move is done. Bean's art is muscular, with strong color and line, and filled with motion, from the dog and boy holding onto his toy box, to the trucks and road signs whizzing by, until it comes to rest with the family, standing and still, framed in their lighted doorway, home at last. A moving story about moving away, moving in, and moving on.

Other notable picture books by the talented Deborah Underwood include The Quiet Book, The Loud Book!, The Christmas Quiet Book, and the recent Here Comes the Easter Cat.

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