The Path / Why?

These are two thought-provoking picture books from minedition – thanks to GMC Distribution for sending them for review

The Path
Bob Staake

As we follow a small character walking along on a winding path, we soon realise that this path is a metaphor for life’s journey and its challenges. ‘You will walk along a well-worn path that many others have taken before you.” we read at the outset. To start with the walk is easy; but inevitably there will be bumps and obstacles along the way, perhaps a dark forest will replace those valleys of wildflowers bathed in sunlight. You may even get lost, face terrifying dangers or encounter what seems to be a dead end. Prepare to be surprised.

Like the character, you will emerge elated and ready to forge a path of your own making head held high.
Poetic and to the point, the thoughtful narrative has a gentle lyricism but for me the real show stealers are Staake’s digitally created illustrations of the ever changing landscape through which the character journeys.

A wonderful conversation starter that could be used at various stages in a child or young person’s life from moving to KS2 in a primary school right up to a new graduate. Essentially this is a book of possibilities, perspective and an individual’s outlook on life: the message is that it’s the journey not the destination that matters.

Nikolai Popov

As this wordless story begins a frog sits peaceably atop a rock holding a flower, a serene expression on his face. Suddenly, from a hole very close up pops a mouse clutching an umbrella. They look expectantly at one another. Could Frog be anticipating making a new friend of mouse. It certainly doesn’t happen: the mouse has designs on the frog’s flower, leaps at the creature and steals it. Up come two well built frogs and see the mouse off. Very soon more frogs and mice enter the battle, the tools of which become increasingly powerful

and eventually the conflict escalates into a full-scale war; the result being the entire terrain lies wasted,: there are no winners in this war, just total devastation all round.

All this we see in the the artist’s delicate watercolour scenes with their droll animal characters against the backdrop of blasting guns and explosions that make the reality of the situation even harsher. Then there’s that final spread.

Why? Oh why? we ask ourselves. Why indeed.

With what is happening with the increasingly ugly war in Ukraine, this question and indeed Popov’s powerful condemnation of war in this allegory is particularly pertinent. Why, oh why can’t a certain despot see the utter futility of war?