PUBLISHED: 4:07 PM on Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Help children prepare for a move
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About 43 million Americans move every year, and more than half do it between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to industry statistics. Imagine the amount of bubble wrap and tape. If your family is packing and planning, take a breather to look at A New House by Jill Wenzel (Grape Elephant Market Press, $6.95; ages 4-10). Text in this written-with-a-mission paperback is as straightforward as it comes.

Moving to a new house can be fun. You will get a new bedroom. You may get a new swing set. Your new house may have many special things.

Moving can be sad, too. You may leave good friends behind. You may miss your old room. You may have to go to a new school.

All emotions and concepts associated with moving (apprehension, excitement, choosing between a split-level and an A-frame house) are plainly stated, and the accompanying questions are designed to spark conversation. What will you miss about your old neighborhood? What will you not miss? What will you bring to your new house?

Children can literally connect the dots or play a board game as they discuss The New Place. Blank space on Page 12 provides a place for kids to draw a picture of their favorite house, and words on a double-page instruct readers to circle or color the pictures of things that will join them at their new home. Choices include a hamster, a checkerboard and a soccer ball. These are all pretty portable, but the rendering of the chest of drawers and the basketball and hoop raise questions. Will all the furniture go? How about the hoop? Take time to explain whether new furniture and a trip to a sporting goods store are a scheduled part of arrival plans for the next destination.

New House is supposed to be a workbook. It is, and it works. Use it. If you are looking for picture books to prepare children for the experience of moving, check out these titles, which are decidedly less workbookish but equally useful and infinitely more charming.

* Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst (Aladdin Paperback, $6.99). The boy who had the very bad day and was rich one Sunday does not want to leave his soccer team, his friends who have the dog or the owner of the dry-cleaning business who knows how important it is to save stuff left in pockets c even gum wrappers.

* Goodbye House by Frank Asch (Moonbear Books, $6.99). Papa takes Baby on a final tour of the empty home and recalls happy memories.

* I'm Not Moving, Mama by Nancy White Carlstrom (Aladdin Paperback, $6.99). Mouse refuses to leave his room on moving day until Mama explains that the family just won't be able to sleep without him in their new place.

* The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House, $3.99) Find out how the well-known family came to live in their tree-sweet-tree.