Thursday, 25 April 2013

V for Varley

I am going back to the illustrators today with two books from Susan Varley, each with very different styles. The first is 'Why is the Sky Blue' written by Sally Grindley which I confess I love mostly for the message it conveys.
In this book Donkey and Rabbit live in a field. "Donkey was very old and knew a lot of things" and "Rabbit was very young and wanted to learn". But Rabbit is very excitable and runs back and forth around the field discovering things for himself and finds it hard to pay attention to the lessons Donkey wants to impart. The pictures show Rabbit chasing butterflies or looking at the clouds or trying to fly like the birds:
He comes back each day and tells Donkey excitedly all about the things he has discovered and says how he really does want to learn about why the shy is blue, Donkey always says "But I can only teach you if you sit still and listen." Eventually, one day when Rabbit doesn't come back, Donkey sets out to look for him and along the way rediscovers the joy of adventure and imagination. I always liked it because it subverts the classic school message that children can only learn if they sit quiet and listen to what the teacher says, and embraces the notion of individual discovery that forms the basis of autonomous education.  
(By the way, here is why the sky is blue, in case you are wondering.)

The second one is 'The Monster Bed' written by Jeanne Willis, another book that subverts the monster story genre. 
In it we have young Dennis the Monster who is afraid of the children who might be under his bed while he is asleep. He decides that to prevent this happening he will sleep under the bed. Unfortunately when a small boy who gets lost in the woods happens to wander into their cave and find the bed a traumatic meeting between the two of them becomes inevitable.

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Thanks for stopping by. Thoughts, opinions and suggestions (reading or otherwise) always most welcome.


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