Juster, Norton. 2011. NEVILLE. Ill. by G. Brian Karas. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375867051 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
Unhappy with his move to a new neighborhood, a boy is sent out one afternoon to find a friend. After a discouraging walk, he stops and inexplicably calls out the name, “Neville!” Drawing the attention of other children, the boy answers questions about this missing person. All then energetically join in the search and soon the air is full of “Neville!” With suppers waiting, the children leave the boy, vowing to help him look for Neville again tomorrow. A newly confident boy happily returns home to supper and bed, tucked in by his mother who wishes Neville pleasant dreams.
The simple text, written with more than a touch of irony, effectively sets up the gentle story of a boy who looks for friends in a unique way. The illustrations mirror the emotions presented through the story, spare and gray at the beginning of the book and colorful and detailed as the tale progresses. The word “Neville” almost becomes a character through the illustrations, as the word is drawn in a multitude of ways. A perfect partnership of simple but evocative text and pictures, NEVILLE provides a reassuring look into the importance of friendship in a child’s world.
Have a group discussion on friendship. Why did Neville say that the worst part of moving was not having friends? What were some examples of characters being good friends in the book? What did Neville discover about friendship?
Other picture books about moving:
Penn, Audrey. A KISS GOODBYE. ISBN 9781933718040
Seigel, Mark. MOVING HOUSE! ISBN 9781596436350
Yolen, Jane. ELSIE’S BIRD. ISBN 9780399252921
By Susi Parks Grissom