ABOUT THE BOOK Before I Leave
From the Publisher:
How do you say goodbye to your best friend?
When a little hedgehog’s family tells her they’re moving far away, she and her anteater best friend decide to play one last time, like nothing is changing. And though it’s hard, they discover that while some things have to change, the most important things find a way of working out.
The story is told in first person narrative (Zelda). Zelda the hedgehog and her family are moving away and she is very sad to be leaving her friend Aaron the anteater. She tries to pack Aaron to take him with her, but he doesn’t fit in the luggage and her mom says Aaron can’t come. They decide to play one last time (like nothing is changing) by doing all the things that they love to do like tether ball, rowing, telephone (with cans and string) and eating ice cream. Zelda is scared to be leaving, but Aaron reassures her that she will be ok and that they will see each other again. When she arrives at her new house and unpacks, she discovers that Aaron has filled her suitcase with letters and pictures as mementos of their friendship for her to put up in her new room and the last page shows their ongoing correspondence. The watercolour illustrations are delightful.
My 3 year old loved this story. We didn’t make it personal, as none of our friends or family are moving, nor have they moved in her little life time, but we were able to imagine together how it might feel. She loves hedgehogs, but was uncertain about what an anteater was, so this was a good introduction. I really loved the positive message that creatures of different sizes and types can be good friends. Aaron the anteater’s long long tongue had her in fits of laughter, especially when he used it to steal Zelda’s ice cream. Great fun! My little miss gave this book two thumbs up.
- rich watercolour illustrations
- kid-appropriate emotions – sadness balanced with fun and humour
- juxtaposition of tiny hedgehog with larger anteater showing that creatures of different types and sizes can be friends.
- text is a bit sparse in places so it may need a bit of additional explanation for the youngest reader (this is a really picky dislike and does not really affect the story too much, as the illustrations are rich and detailed)
Why/How Use it with kids:
- great book to use to talk to kids about an impending move – either them moving or a friend who is moving
- create pictures and memories/mementos for your child or their friend to take when they move
- write a letter(s) or create some art (digital or hard copy) to send to a loved one who has moved or who is far away
- discuss favourite activities/memories that child has done with treasured friend and a list of favourite things to do on a visit or “one last time” before they leave
About the Author:
Jessica Bagley is an author and illustrator originally from Portland, Oregon. She spent many days in her childhood combing the Oregon Coast for the perfect sand dollar. Now, she lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and son in a castle in the sky.