The Misadventures of Frederick
Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark
Frederick lives in a large mansion surrounded by beautiful countryside and seemingly lacks for nothing, except the one thing he truly wants – freedom.
Emily in contrast is free to roam but lacks a friend and playmate.
One day she notices Frederick and realising he is bored, she sends him a note inviting him to join her outside for ice-cream.
Much of the ensuing story takes place through Emma Chichester Clark’s exquisite illustrations that are alternately dark and gloomy (when the focus is on Frederick), or bright and full of light and colour when showing Emily’s actions in the great outdoors.
The text in contrast is almost exclusively in the form of the written communication between the two characters; Emily’s being short, sharp notes;
Frederick’s are penned in a rather flowery, poetic style characteristic of a child who lives his life in his head.
Gradually Emily’s messages grow briefer until there comes a cry,
a cry that finally lures Frederick into taking a risk and tasting what it’s like to be free.
His freedom however comes at a small price as the final page shows; but readers are left knowing that one small setback isn’t going to deter the boy in future.
I absolutely loved this book: the combination of the clever narrative and the story extending illustrations makes for a highly unusual picture book with a strong message for risk averse adults as well as listeners whether or not they’re unlucky enough to be in situations similar to Frederick’s.