Jack and Mia

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Robert Vescio (text), Claire Richards (illus.), Jack and Mia, Wombat Books, 1 Oct 2016, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781925139730

Jack and Mia is a sweet story about two young friends who live next door to each other and love to play together. The children enjoy all the traditional childhood games – playing dress-ups and make believe, building a cardboard cubby, card games and putting on impromptu concerts for their mums.

Then Mia’s family moves away. Jack is sad but, this is a modern book and, Queensland author Robert Vescio shows that today’s technology can help bridge the distance. The Internet means the two friends can actually see each other online. And so they talk, play and laugh together in a whole new way, as well as share drawings and photographs from across the world.

Jack and Mia can be a light read or a prompt for discussion about topics such as friendship, inclusivity, vaccinations and careers. The two main characters are obviously different genders and they have also been illustrated with different coloured skin, yet they “fit together like a puzzle“. If you have a youngster due for their next immunisations, they may be able to relate to the story when Mia and Jack both get sick with red spots (perhaps it’s chicken pox?). And when Mia is waved off, her dad is wearing army greens, so there’s an opportunity for discussion about the demands of particular jobs or the importance of the armed forces.

South Australian illustrator Claire Richards has created bright, fun and colourful pictures that fill the pages, with plenty of inspiration for childhood games and play.

My 8-tear-old twin girls had already read this book at school before I pulled it out at home and were happy to hear it over again. Little Man, 4, liked it too.

Teacher’s Notes are available on the Wombat Books website.

Reviewed by Carissa Mason