These are two recent titles from Allen & Unwin Children’s Books: thanks to the publisher for sending them for review
Kate Simpson and Ronojoy Ghosh
Separated by a huge distance, a little boy Henry and his grandpa sustain a very special relationship through their letter writing that begins when the child moves to a new apartment in the big city 2003 km from his grandpa’s house. The first letters are factual and Henry talks of things in the city that he hopes just might encourage Grandpa to come and visit (ice-cream shops, cinemas and me). As their exchange proceeds, the two become imaginative, inventing and deflating one another’s way out visiting plans – riding on a whale,
catching a shooting star – and readers are presented with a series of facts that the letter writers share while coming to terms with the physical distance between them.
I love the way the author brings us full circle with Grandpa’s closing letter mirroring Henry’s opening one with talk of that needle and magnet to point the way to one another’s abodes.
A gorgeous demonstration of how it’s possible for a loving human connection to transcend distance, with Ronojoy Ghosh’s imaginative illustrations being quirky visual representations of each of the letters. A smashing book for a grandparent and grandchild to share.
Jordan Collins and Phil Lesnie
Where? is an enormously powerful, heartfelt slam poem by Jordan Collins written when the author was in his teens, in response to the ‘where are you from’ question. Thoughtless racist comments such as that can be incredibly hurtful yet still some people continue to ask such things. Here the author makes a plea to be seen in the same way as everybody else (everybody with white skin that is) as opposed to somebody entirely ‘other’. Readers cannot help but feel for the young narrator, and by implication, every other person who is being judged not by who s/he is, but on account of their skin colour, type of hair, way of speaking, from where they’ve come.
lllustrator Phil Lesnie has taken Jordan’s words and brought them to life in a stunning way that expands on those words which quite rightly, (and optimistically), end thus ‘I’m from the same place that you are. // So no need to ask again.’ Every spread is one to ponder over and think deeply about and one can but hope that the book finds its way into all primary school classrooms wherever they are. For sure, we all need to celebrate our common origins and shared humanity.