Toddler Takes: Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
I read a lot of picture books aloud these days. I am definitely NOT complaining. Picture books are the BEST read-alouds out there because they usually come with an attentive or opinionated audience. Picture books are by nature interactive; even when read alone, you are compelled to look at the illustrations and consider them in relation to the text.
I've decided to bring my picture book reading team (toddler + me) to the blog to do some reviews of our favorite read-alouds.
We're a bilingual family, so we actually read the Spanish version of this title, Evelyn Del Rey se Muda. This is a picture book by Meg Medina, who is also known for her middle grade and young adult novels.
This story details the final pack-up and move-out of Evelyn, who has been Daniela's mejor amiga since forever. The girls romp through Evelyn's house for one last playtime while the parents pack up the van. Before they know it, all that's left is goodbye, and promises to remain friends forever.
I appreciate the characterization of Evelyn as a Black Latinx girl. My toddler already notices the difference in skin tones and language of his friends and playmates at the park, so Evelyn gives us a reference point. Language and race are not a one-to-one match.
The illustrations are warm in tone. Interior apartment scenes have complex wallpaper and other design details. The outdoor autumn tones are lovely. While my toddler might be searching for the animals on each page, I enjoy the chance to peer at the smaller artistic layerings.
I'm a still-learning Spanish speaker, so this story taught me a few differences in regional vocabulary. The girls apply stickers to their cheeks, and my husband called out from another room during an early read to shift the word choice of both stickers and cheeks to his preferred (Mexico City) usage. Because this book is meant for readers at the upper age range of the picture book market, there are more complex sentences that teach some syntactical structure as well.
First of all, there's an orange cat. And any book with a cat in it wins all the interest points. On many reads, we skip from the first cat sighting, over a whole bunch of pages, to the next cat sighting. There's also a kind neighbor lady who feeds the girls cookies; what's better than a cat AND cookies?
My toddler loves language, particularly language he can reproduce. After a number of reads, there were particular phrases he latched onto and joined me in saying, so if he happened to miss his chance to say the phrase (like when he was looking for cats), we would have to double-back and reread.
His favorite image of all is a view of Evelyn and Daniela sprawled out together on their backs on Evelyn's floor after spinning in circles in the empty space and falling down. They are giddy. Evelyn has a huge, glorious smile, and my toddler points at this image and coos at her, mirroring her smile, before giving both girls a kiss.
This story has room to grow with us. Right now, my toddler follows the general action, but I look forward to using it as a processing piece about changes and moving. I grew up in a family that moved, so I know it's important to help the little ones process this kind of emotional event. This book has a permanent home on the shelf!