Everywhere With You

Everywhere With You
Carlie Sorosiak and Devon Holzwarth
Walker Books

This gorgeous book is about a little girl, a lonely dog, two homes separated by a fence, reading together and the power of the imagination.

In one home lives the little girl who doesn’t have a pet, in the other lives the seemingly neglected dog. One evening the little girl creeps up to the fence, savoury biscuit in hand and offers it to the dog. Next day at sunset she returns with another tasty offering and some books; she reads aloud wonderful stories, “I hope you don’t mind,” she says. “I’ve noticed that no one ever plays with you – and I like reading aloud. These are my favourites.”

So begins a series of wonderful meetings full of magical story time adventures that continue through the seasons and a warm, close bond develops between girl and dog.

We cannot help but feel the conflicting emotions: the joy of the time together but then there’s sadness about the dog’s circumstances.

Then one night in the lights of the windows next door, the dog sees the family clearly very happy in their love together: he longs to be a part of all that. Could there be a way …

The ending will bring a tear to your eye; it did mine and I’m not a dog lover.

The relatively spare prose of the telling works really well and allows artist Devon Holzwarth plenty of scope to take readers, as well of the book’s main characters, on fantastic adventures and voyages of discovery. She changes the colour palette of her vibrant illustrations as the narrative switches from the reality of the girl/dog encounters, to their flights of fancy when the child reads aloud to the animal.

Found You

Found You
Devon Holzwarth
Alison Green Books

It’s difficult enough moving home, but having to flee your homeland leaving all your friends behind, to move to a new country as a refugee has challenges like nothing else.

That’s how it is for young Sami who, since his arrival with his family, has become a loner. Everything looks and feels totally different; people don’t speak your home language and it seems as though you just don’t fit.

One day Sami and his mum are visiting the park and watching from the trees is a little bird, all alone too. Suddenly she whizzes downwards smack into Sami. The little creature says she is lost and asks for his help in finding her friends.

Gradually during their search Sami finds that the people he’d previously thought of as standoffish are quite the opposite. The old lady from the bus no longer scowls; rather she smiles offering Sami grain to feed the birds.

Then the baker offers to share his lunch.

Suddenly Sami recalls where it was he’d seen birds just like Little Bird; off they go but in his anxiety and rush to help, Sami ignores the chance to play with a little girl from his nursery.

At the cherry tree Little Bird’s friends are waiting and seemingly it’s job done and time for a farewell. Little Bird thanks Sami, making him feel proud by adding “You’re a very good friend” and flies off with the others leaving the boy alone once more. Until something surprising happens …

It’s then revealed that Little Bird’s mission isn’t over just yet for in this wonderfully heart warming story there are others in situations similar to Sami’s that also need her help.

With its gorgeous colour palette and superbly expressive scenes which show much more than is said in her text, Devon Holzwarth’s debut picture book is one that’s certain to foster empathy and understanding, showing how important it is to offer a welcoming environment to newcomers. It can all begin with holding out a hand (or wing) in friendship.