Yesterday here in Australia our Children’s Book Council announced the Notable books for 2016. From this list a short list will be announced in May and then during Book Week in August the winners will be revealed. This is quite a different process from past years and means I have an enormous pile of books to read.
Early Childhood 23 titles
Younger Readers 14 titles
Information books 15 titles
Picture Book of the Year 22 titles
I probably won’t talk about all of these books. Some are for a younger audience and some don’t especially appeal to me but I did pick up a selection from school today.
In the evening is on the Picture Book of the Year list. At first glance this book seems better suited to the Early Childhood category but on further reading I have changed my mind about this. The lyrical language, emotional arc and relationship of the artwork to this Emily Dickinson poem mean I am sure to find great discussion points for our middle primary students.
There’s a certain Slant of light, (320)
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Where the Meanings, are –
Sent us of the Air –
On the look of Death –
In this story we meet two squirrels. Oscar is shy, cautious and house bound. Charlie is lively, gregarious and outgoing. Charlie approaches Oscar offering friendship but Oscar does not know what to do, he is overcome by his shyness and so rejects each overture. Every day Oscar tries to reach out to Charlie but each time Charlie hides or pretends to be asleep and finally in his confusion and fear he makes a big mistake:
“On Friday evening, when Oscar was sipping his tea, a face appeared at the front window ‘Hello!’. Oscar leapt to his feet. His cup and saucer smashed to pieces. Oscar didn’t know what to do. So he shouted ‘Leave me alone!‘
Now it is Charlie who retreats into his home and when Oscar looks out in the evening the chair on the verandah is empty. It takes enormous courage for Oscar to step outside and make his own overture of friendship.
The opening words of this book are written like a poem.
In the evening, the clouds were purple and pink.”
When you turn to the final page you will see an echo of these opening lines including one line which lingers with me
Another thing to notice in this book is the use of longer and very short sentences (see the example above) and the lyrical language. Here is an example to savour and read slowly “the shapes and shades and shadows of the evening floated by.”
There are some wonderful books in this section – Picture book of the Year and only six will make up the short list but I do hope In the evening will be selected because it deals with issues which at time confront all of us – the need for connection and the confusion of shyness.
Over the next few days I will discuss some of the other books in this category. Here is a review of In the evening and another with some extra details about the art found in this book. Here is the web site for Edwina Wyatt.
Learn more about Momo here