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Connecting Friends Oceans Apart

By Robert Vescio 

jackandmiamed2Do you have a friend who has moved away? A long-distance friendship can be tough to maintain. Luckily, technology is breaking down barriers for staying connected and keeping the friendship thriving, even if you’re oceans apart.

I wrote a picture book that touches on key issues of friendship and loss. Jack and Mia is an enchanting and tender tale about a special friendship (rich in imagination) that survives distance by finding creative ways to stay connected.

Jack and Mia do everything together. They stick together like paper and glue. Then one day Mia’s family moves away – not to another suburb but to another country on the other side of the world. This is a story that will resonate with children who are about to move or have moved and miss their friends.

Unlike other picture books about this subject, Jack and Mia illustrates how today kids are finding it easier to keep in touch with friends and loved ones who live far away. Growing up, I had friends that moved half-the-world away – common for working parents and military families – and the only way to connect with them was to write or call. Today, technology is changing the way we stay connected. Everything you need is in the palm of your hands.

There are lots of ways to maintain a long distance friendship. Picking up the phone sounds obvious, but international rates are expensive, limiting your connection time with your friends back home. A better way of connecting, without exhausting your funds, is using a Wi-Fi connection, allowing you to keep regular contact. This option enables you to download apps to help you feel close to your friends despite the distance.

Skype makes it simple to share experiences with family and friends for free. You can call, message, video and share things all in one convenient place. In fact, Skype has become so popular that people use ‘Skyping’ as a verb to connect with people.

Using social media is a simple way of staying in touch i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest just to name a few. They are all user-friendly and just happen to be fun and interesting as well.

Sending emails are a great way to keep in touch. This way you can keep a record of your conversations and revisit them at any time you like. Children can draw pictures and send photos too.

But of course, not everyone embraces high tech gadgets. Technology may not suit everyone. Some people prefer the human touch – a hug, for instance. So you can always plan a trip. This is great for making memories and reliving old ones in person. This may seem like an expensive option, but a once a year visit will make a huge difference and help keep your friendship alive.

And, of course, there is nothing more personal than posting a hand written letter. This is a cherished way of keeping letters from that someone special and looking back on them. It’s also helpful to know that they are always on their mind.

Jack and Mia (illustrated by Claire Richards and published by Wombat Books) is a warm and entertaining tale about the power of a child’s imagination and to keep a friendship long and strong, regardless of distance. Available to purchase now through all good bookstores and Wombat Books.

Robert Vescio is a published children’s author. His picture books include, Barnaby and the Lost Treasure of Bunnyville (Big Sky Publishing), Marlo Can Fly (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2015, No Matter Who We’re With (IP Kidz). He has more picture books due out in 2016 and 2017. Many of his short stories have been published in anthologies such as Packed Lunch, Short and Twisted, Charms Vol 1 and The School Magazine NSW. He has also won awards for his children’s writing including First Place in the 2012 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition and Highly Commended in the 2011 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition.

Robert enjoys visiting schools. His aim is to enthuse and inspire children to read and write and leave them bursting with imaginative ideas. For more information visit: www.robertvescio.com or www.facebook.com/RobertVescioAuthor

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