Sunday, 14 September 2014

On Sudden Hill

I've become very quiet here I know. We've had a wonderful summer, jam packed full of good sticks and fires and mud and ice cream and Expeditions and mucking about and more particularly bears and whales and glaciers (which is another story). But truth to tell, awful to tell really, it wasn't that packed with books. Or perhaps more accurately that packed with books that we shared and got excited about together.Or perhaps MOST accurately books that I felt like blogging about after we'd shared them.

Bah. Enough introspection. I guess I've just been waiting for the right book to come along. Yesterday the right book did come along. A picture book that socked me in the gut with its proper punch of perfect emotional pitch. A picture book sparkly jewel of loveliness, that made me a bit snivelly and a bit warm inside. A picture book that made the nine year old (NINE year old) both prematurely nostalgic and  a bit jealous and aspirational and a tiny bit teary too.

'On Sudden Hill' by Linda Sarah, illustrated by Benji Davies is that book. A magical collaboration of text and pictures; there is real poetry in both. Birt and Etho take their cardboard boxes up Sudden Hill each day and find a box and a friend is all that is required for every possible adventure. When Shu arrives on the hill with his own box, two become three and everything is changed.
 Birt retreats and breaks his box. This is genuinely gut wrenching. The picture of Birt alone outside his house, the light through the windows dappling the grass is quite wonderfully sad.
Shu and Etho bring Birt back to the hill of course: The resolution of the book provides a blueprint for the best box-creation ever. And a blueprint in a simpler way for the negotiations and compromises of friendship. It's just lovely.

When Bill read it he was very still afterwards for a few minutes. Then he said 'I wish we lived by Sudden Hill'. Then he said 'That was brilliant'. Then he turned back to the beginning and read it again. There. That's all the review you need isn't it? If you love picture books this is one you need to own.

And pictures to remind Bill that he doesn't have it so bad when it comes to hills and junk constructions or indeed boxes-

'On Sudden Hill' by Linda Sarah, illustrated by Benji Davies, pub Simon and Schuster,
 isbn 978-1-4711-2325-2. Source- bought from a Real bookshop.