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

Monday 16 July 2018

Review: King of the Sky

This story is one of hope and courage. It is narrated by a migrant boy starting life in a new country, where no one spoke my language.  He reveals his feelings of loss, loneliness, isolation, and displacement in a simple but poignant way.

Mr Evans, an old man who races pigeons, befriends the lonely boy as the only thing the child associates with in this new land, are the pigeons that remind him of home.

A lifetime in the mines has left the old man crippled and with a voice that whispers soft and slow enough for the boy to understand. I love to see them fly after so long underground.

Mr Evans gives the boy one of his pigeons to name and own. He calls it Re Del Cielo - King of the Sky. Although he is the slowest of all his birds, Mr Evans is convinced he will win the race of twelve hundred miles.

The boy is taught how to slip the birds into a basket, take them to the railway station and let them out - each day a little further. Each time King of the Sky comes in last.

The old man’s optimism and his stories of pigeon’s roles during the war, give the boy hope. But as the old man grows weaker, the boy must take control of his birds; put rings on their legs, take them to the station, wait for their return, and clock them in.

The day of the race dawns at last. Can King of the Sky prove to be all the old man says? Will he weather the storm that threatens to blow them off course? Or will he, like the boy, navigate his way home?

This book is outstanding in every way. Deeply emotive hand-lettered text, joins with delicate soft-coloured fine illustrations by multi-award winning Laura Carlin, to make this a highly collectable children’s book. Filled with beauty and strong messages, there is nothing to fault here. It’s one of those books that draw a sigh of utter satisfaction from the reader as it is pressed to their chest.

The gorgeous end pages full of different types of pigeons are a prelude to the book’s contents. Its themes of finding a place to belong and call home, and having the courage to make a new beginning, reflects the migrant story, but also applies to any new beginnings, and the human need to belong.

A highly successful musical adaption of this title has been on stage two years running.

Title: King of the Sky
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Walker Books, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406348613
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book