Half a World Away ISBN: 9781407110691
Published by Scholastic, 2012
This beautiful, sad picture book has a glimmer of joy at the end that will mean much to children who are far away from a very special friend. Amy and Louis have always lived next door to each other. They spend lots of time digging holes, looking at clouds, and playing games. Amy has a word for calling Louis; she says, 'Coo-ee, Lou-ee', and he always responds the same way. They share secrets and a hole in the fence through which they can visit each other's gardens. Their idyllic friendship comes to an abrupt end when Amy and her family move 'half a world away' to a big city. The illustrations show us New York, while the word coo-ee seems to suggest that the beginning of the story is in Australia. Louis is bereft, as is Amy, and when he asks his parents if Amy can hear him if he calls her really loudly, they have to say no. She is too far away and 'when you are awake in the day, she is asleep at night.' Grandma is more encouraging: 'You can only try', she says. So he shouts as loud as he can, and when he looks at the sky, he sees clouds shaped like 'seahorses and wild, wild dragons' and he feels his shout moving across seas to Amy's new home. She awakes in the morning remembering a happy dream where Louis calls for her, and he sleeps happily feeling his call has been heard. There is a lovely, mystical aspect to this story, and while it is sad because the two best friends may never meet again, we can hope that they stay in touch forever. The illustrations in soft pastel colours are superb and uplifting and perfectly match the lyrical text.