Jack and Mia by Robert Vescio
Ill. by Claire Richards. Wombat Books, 2016. ISBN 9781925139730
Before Mia moved in next door, Jack was lonely. But Mia brought rainbows, jungles, concerts and lots and lots of giggles. Even their mums thought they were 'two sides of the one coin' and 'fit together like a puzzle.' Mia's amazing imagination took them on adventures that Jack had never dreamed of and when they both got sick at the same time, they were each given a book about making and doing, make-believe and play that allowed them to continue the fun from their beds.
When they were better they kept using their books, snipping, gluing, taping and tying a magnificent cardboard castle. They each wore crowns and royal robes and ruled over their kingdom with wisdom and kindness. They were as close as the materials that held that castle together. Until one day Mia moves far away with her family and Jack is back into the isolation and desolation that he felt before Mia entered his life. Nothing was the same any more.
Across the sea, Mia had also given up. She was missing Jack just as much. But then Jack found Mia's book in his toybox and...
There is nothing like the deep friendships forged in childhood where there are no distractions beyond deciding what today's fun will be about. Jack and Mia is a charming story that focuses on such a friendship and how it can continue even after separation has intervened. It will resonate with children who have moved away from familiar surroundings and friends and show them that there are plenty of ways of keeping in touch to relive old memories and make new ones. The technology of today gives them so much more than that of previous generations and the world can come to you with just a few clicks.
The illustrations enrich the storyline as Jack and Mia do not share the same skin colour but neither notice - it's all about who each child is, how they connect and the fun that can be had when kids get together, just as it is in any playground. In fact, I'd proffer that the readers will not even notice the difference. Racism and all that it entails is very definitely a concept learned from adults.
Heartwarming and positive.