Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Hello Goodbye Window

Juster, Norton. THE HELLO GOODBYE WINDOW. Ill. by Chris Raschka. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786809140 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

Norton Juster’s captivating picture book recreates the magic of a little girl’s visits to her grandparent’s home. Each stay begins and ends with a glimpse through the Hello, Goodbye Window: “It looks like a regular window, but it’s not.” Through this portal the child shares waves, silly faces, peek-a-boos and blown kisses. She also spies the starry night sky, her grandmother’s prized garden, and the arrival of the pizza delivery guy. The text describes the myriad of simple activities that fill time at Nanna and Poppy’s in an authentically child-like voice. When Poppy makes his specialty breakfast, she explains, “My favorite is oatmeal with bananas and raisins that you can’t see because he hides them down inside. I find them all.” When she gets tired the girl can nap easily: “Nothing happens until I get up.”

Chris Raschka’s unique illustrations stunningly support Juster’s text. His paintings explode in a riot of color that is part line drawing, part finger painting, and part watercolor. Figures and scenes feel like spectacular preschool drawings, and perfectly capture the child’s point of view that permeates the book. For all its crude simplicity, the double page depiction of saying good night to the stars conveys the same awed perspective as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The book’s final view of Nanna and Poppy’s house is seen as the child heads home with her parents. She notes that there are many windows, “but there’s only one Hello, Goodbye Window and its right where you need it.” The reassuring message will hit home with any reader who knows the comfort of a special relationship with grandparents.

Children can share their experiences visiting with grandparents or other special family members. They can illustrate their experiences and write or dictate text to accompany their drawings.

Picture books for primary readers about visiting grandparents:
Anholt, Catherine. HARRY’S HOME. ISBN 0374328706
Harshman, Marc. ROADS. ISBN 0761451129
Koralek, Jenny. NIGHT RIDE TO NANNA’S. ISBN 0763611921
Velasquez, Eric. GRANDMA’S RECORDS. ISBN 0802787606

By Suzy Parchman

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