Monday, 26 June 2017

OPINION PIECE - Children's Picture Book KING OF THE SKY

'Clever story with much political connotation. A refreshing approach to composition and story meaning' Opinion piece by reviewer, Debra Hall

Author: Nicola Davies 
Illustrated by: Laura Carlin 
Publisher: Walker Books 
Edition: Hardback Original 
Publication: 04 April 2017 
ISBN 9781406348613 
RRP Price: £12.99


Endorsed by Amnesty International this story is of a young migrant boy starting a new life in a ex mining community in Wales. The boy is homesick for Italy and his life there, yet he finds a new friend in Mr Evans. They soon find they enjoy a shared interest which helps both the man and the boy in getting to grips with their difficult situations 


Now I'm not saying that target audience of a child under nine years wouldn't have the emotional maturity to twin this story with news reports they might see, or hear, of citizens from EU countries feeling less valued as residents, here in the UK., by a faction of members from British society who appear
to be at ease to openly express that view.
And, I believe perceptive young readers will link and feel empathy, not only for the little boy character in the story because he feels pushed out, but for friends and acquaintances they might know. Those who come from abroad and who feel, to some degree, under the cosh living in this country right now.  

There is also comfort in the story lines for any little being who doesn't feel like he or she belongs in a place.

But you know I think there is also a message here for Brits of the older generation too. The grandparent bedtime reader who voted for Brexit because of the immigration issue perhaps? Oh yes, grandpa or grandma will enjoy those references made to a post industrial Britain in this story. A story about a nostalgic, pre- technological age they knew and experienced first hand. Grandpa or grandma will replace the deliberately scant, undefined illustrations of compromised landscapes with their own mind's eye visual - viewed through their rose-coloured reading glasses. 
Grandpa and grandma will appreciate the musings of the pigeon fancier because for them it'll demonstrate a simpler, more low tech time. A time, in their view, when everything was better!

The adults will appreciate all these elements more than the flexible, judging free mind of the young recipient. Grandpa or grandma will understand the words and phrases like: mutton (sheep meat), coal dust (the cause of Mr Evans lung disease); racing pigeons (hobbyist activity) ; railwayman (as a job title), whereas the grandchild will require explanation in the first instance. 

But will simply reading this story out loud change opinions? Course not. This, however, is a story that is deep and meaningful, and more deep and meaningful than first meets the eye.


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