Nen and the Lonely Fisherman / Love Grows Everywhere

Nen and the Lonely Fisherman
Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew
Owlet Press

Far out to sea lives Nen; he’s a merman who loves exploring but nonetheless has an empty feeling in his heart. Every night he sits beneath a starry sky singing to the sea whose waves carry his words of hope but Nen remains alone when he returns to the seabed.

Despite his father Pelagios’s warnings, Nen’s explorations of the world beyond his own lead him to discover fishing boats beyond which lives Ernest, a lonely fisherman who also feels something is lacking in his life.

One night Ernest hears Nen’s song and feeling something in his heart, he sets off in his boat to find the owner of this magical voice. So it is that a bond develops between Nen and Ernest. However Pelagios urges his son to stay away from the humans who are harming the oceans. Nen pays no heed however for he feels that the gentle, kind Ernest is special and their nightly meetings continue.

As Pelagios’ anger and sadness increase they unleash a terrible storm that puts Ernest’s life in danger as he’s thrown from his rickety boat into the foaming deep. Can Nen possibly come to his rescue

and if so, might it just change the mind of his father?

Washed through with an important conservation message, Ian Eagleton’s soft-spoken, lyrical tale of acceptance and love is compelling and perfectly paced, helped in no small part by James Mayhew’s powerfully atmospheric illustrations that include a wonderful full-length vertical scene of Nen searching the depths for Ernest, as well as small vignettes and double page spreads.

There’s love too in:

Love Grows Everywhere
Barry Timms and Tisha Lee
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

‘Love grows everywhere…
From country farm to city square
From desert village, hot and dry,
to mountain home where eagles fly
.’
Through Barry Timms’ gentle rhyming text and Tisha Lee’s vibrant illustrations we share a family’s love, not only for one another but also for the plants they grow, nurture, sell, and give to members of their local community, newcomers especially. When reading this It’s impossible not to feel the various ways love is shown and shared

be it within the family, the richly diverse community or anywhere else: for love is a gift that helps to make the world a brighter, happier place; it keeps on growing and there’s sufficient for everyone, everywhere. It might just take some time for its magic to happen.

How wonderful it would be if this heartfelt book could show the way to everyone, in every place where such love is yet to manifest itself.

Violet’s Tempest

Violet’s Tempest
Ian Eagleton and Clara Anganuzzi
Lantana Publishing

There’s a change in Violet’s world: what was once her giggly voice is now a whisper. Consequently when Mr Newland, her teacher, casts her as the mischievous Ariel in the school play, she’s beset by nerves and worries – suppose people laugh at her?

Back home, Violet’s loving, empathetic Nan offers her support and encouragement,

so too do her uncle Tony and his partner Uncle Sebastian.

Meanwhile the rehearsals continue apace at school where her teacher too is supportive and suggests Violet tries to imagine how Ariel would feel trapped and unable to escape.

The weeks pass and the day of the performance of The Tempest draws ever closer, with Nan continuing to inspire and embolden Violet as she practises her lines. Then comes the dress rehearsal: “Violet … think about how Ariel will feel once they’re free” Mr Newland tells her. The girl breathes deeply reminding herself of her Nan, and beginning with a whisper, starts playing her part.

When the big night arrives, Violet is beset by the inevitable racing heart and turbulent tummy but nonetheless as she steps out onto the stage, something amazing, indeed magical happens: Violet feels at peace with herself as Ariel

gliding and swooping across the stage and suddenly her voice changes from a soft whisper to a wonderful roar, much to the delight of her family and doubtless everyone else.

This is a wonderfully warm story of facing up to and over-coming your fears, as well as the power of a supportive family. Clara Anganuzzi’s sensitive illustrations capture effectively the characters’ feelings, making this book one to share and discuss with children either in the classroom or at home. (Despite how he looks in the story, I can’t help but think the author and teacher Ian Eagleton would be just as empathetic as Violet’s class teacher in a similar situation).