'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review: My Two Blankets

I'm not one to enter politics, especially Mid-Debacle, but frankly, this beautiful book couldn't be more timely.

A young, cartwheeling girl leaves her war-ravaged homeland and arrives in Australia - we do not know how, but she [miraculously] arrives and begins an achingly slow integration.

Everything is strange here. The people are strange. The food is strange. Even the wind is strange.

She doesn't speak the language, and all around her is a waterfall of bizarre sounds - cold and intimidating and lonesome.

To cope, the girl wraps herself in a beloved blanket and takes comfort in the sounds and words and memories of her homeland. Sometimes, she wants to stay under this blanket forever, and never go out again.

One day, while out at the park with her auntie, a local girl smiles at her. A little scared, she doesn't know what to do. The local child waves but the girl walks away.

A few days later, they meet again, and the local girl speaks to her in a language she doesn't understand - that cold waterfall of sound with no meaning. But gradually the water warms and the girl begins to feel happy inside.

Over the weeks, her new friend teaches the girl new words. Sometimes they laugh together - and very soon, the new language doesn't sound so sharp and cold any more. The girl realises, she's weaving a brand new blanket - new memories, new words, new sounds, new life.

I love the symbolism in this book, so gently employed in both word and image, to give a lost immigrant child a soft, warm place to wrap herself in. The fear, the kindness, empathy and hope is palpable, and will give non-immigrant children insight into the life-changing processes if takes to leave behind a homeland and embrace one anew.

Freya Blackwood's iconic illustrations beautifully evoke the messaging in this book, with a tenderness that belies schmaltz and instead transports the heart to a place as warm as those precious blankets.

Important.

Title: My Two Blankets
Author: Irena Kobald
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Little Hare, $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 February 2014
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781921714764
For ages: 5 - 9
Type: Picture Book

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