Monthly Archives: December 2006

Alone on a Wide Wide Sea

Michael Morpurgo

HarperCollins

1904442714

Oct 2005

Arthur Hobhouse, an orphan shipped to Australia when he was six years old, has only one link with his past: a small key on a piece of string, given to him by his sister Kitty. He has no idea what it is for and no clear memory of his only living relative, but he treasures it. Arthur dies never knowing if his sister ever really existed, but his daughter Allie sails across the world, all alone in the boat he built for her, to find out.
Two distinctively different but equally compelling narrators tell the story of Arthur and his daughter Allie, whose love of sailing is as passionate as her father’s. Morpurgo masterfully manages the dissimilar voices of each storyteller. Arthur’s tale is an honest reflection on a life of hardship occasionally lightened by love. Allie’s narrative, written partly in e-mails, captures absolutely the tone of a spirited young woman on an incredible journey.
The strong tidy thread of plot belies a myriad of inspirations, deftly woven together. Morpurgo’s story is informed by the harrowing historical accounts of child migrants, Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and the e-mails of Alex Whitworth and Peter Crozier, who circumnavigated the world in their yacht in 2004.
Discussing ‘what makes a children’s book great?’ critic Julia Eccleshare once said ‘what makes a book so amazing is the feeling that you cannot stop reading it’ an urgent book.’ Urgent this book certainly is.
I would have read the book in one sitting if it were not for the two sections ‘ as such it demanded two! Be warned: once you start this epic adventure story, you won’t want to stop.

Playtime

Kate Petty

Frances Lincoln

1845073320

Sep 2006

Although cultural constructions of the child vary and ‘ at times – collide, where the ‘Around the World’ series succeeds is in laying out the shared common ground that unites these constructions, regardless of geographical location, of background economic vitality etc.
‘Playtime’ explores the forms and means that play takes for different children around the world. Cidinha and friends in Brazil play tug-of’war, Sasha in Russia plays in a hidey-hole carved out of the snow, Timo in Mali plays with toy boats, Shakeel in India plays football, Giorgi in Azerbaijan races go-karts, Gianni in Albania has made a toy helicopter, families in Sudan play with animals modelled from clay Linh in Vietnam plays have made catapults from elastic bands and much more’
The series breaks down barriers of understanding and unfamiliarity by outlining areas of commonality and shared experience. Each double-page spread features a bold photograph of the children playing, a brief explanation of who they are, whereabouts in the world they are based and the times of games and toys they play with. Children themselves are given the opportunity to further elucidate through means of speech bubbles. The close of the book features a map of the world with each place featured clearly indicated through the use of a miniature photograph.