The Ear

The Ear
Piret Raud
Thames & Hudson

Suppose you are an ear and wake one morning to find you are no longer attached to a head. Then what? Do you any longer have purpose or meaning? “I am no one,” weeps the headless Ear contemplating possibilities – ear mushroom. fish. butterfly.

There follows an encounter with a gloomy frog that asks if he can sing for her and the result is a positive outcome for both parties.

Thereafter the Ear listens to an elephant’s tale, followed by a confession from a hare that’s consumed a snowman’s nose. Gradually the Ear gains a reputation as the ‘best listener in the land’: A purpose at last.

Then along comes a spider, one with a honey-sweet voice and an evil intent that entraps the Ear in a web of unkindness.

With no head to come to the rescue how can the listening organ escape this entrapment? Could it be that those she’s helped can in turn help her?

This story is somewhat surreal to say the least. We never discover how the ear/head separation came about although at the outset we’re shown clues to it‘s identity. There’s a bearded man, then a wooden chair with cane seat and a vase of sunflowers which many adult readers and children will associate with van Gogh.

Raud’s soft colour illustrations of the characters are strange indeed: there’s Ear with her slightly unnerving eyes while those she encounters are, with their swirly interiors, weirdly complex creatures.

With the importance of listening and feeling empathy at its heart, this story is certainly one to get listeners pondering and would work particularly well as the starting point for a community of enquiry.

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