Simon & Schuster
As an avid fan of Benji Davies’ world of Noi books, I was eagerly anticipating this new one and it certainly lives up to expectations.
Noi is off to spend the summer with his Grandma whose home is on a windswept rock across the water. He’s less than enthusiastic at the prospect of this solitary place and the idea of Grandma’s seaweed soup. Worse, he discovers they have to sleep head to toe in her small bed where Grandma snores loudly and the blankets itch; and during the day she’s so busy she has no time to play with her grandson.
The boy decides to explore the seashore alone. Suddenly he spies something shining in the distance and discovers a large hole-filled rock – the perfect place for some imaginary play.
The wind lashes outside, the sea beats against the rocks and suddenly out of the storm a little bird drops at Noi’s feet.
Knowing it needs help, Noi tries to make his way back across the rocks towards Grandma’s home and as he battles against the lashing storm he sees the bright red sail of a little boat.
Grandma has come to his rescue and once safely aboard her boat, boy and Gran gather up more bedraggled birds which they take back to dry out indoors.
Eventually the storm abates and the birds depart, all except one. Could it be that Grandma feels lonely sometimes in her solitary existence, Noi wonders.
Then for the remainder of the summer two humans, one young, one old and a feathered companion spend their days exploring the tiny island together.
Despite the remoteness and bleakness of the setting this is a story full of warmth and tenderness. Gran’s apparent absorption with her daily routine doesn’t prevent her from keeping a watchful eye on Noi from a distance and she’s quick to act when the storm blows up, while the notion that his Gran might be lonely occurs to the boy as the rescued birds depart.
Such is Benji Davies’ way with words that they alone paint wonderful images in the mind, while every one of his illustrations, large or small merits close attention. I love Grandma’s upturned boat of a cottage and its cosy interior complete with’ One Hundred and One Uses for Seaweed’ book, not to mention her skill at stone balancing and yoga; all of which can be relished during the course of this tender tale.