Wednesday 13 November 2013

THE PROMISE by Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Laura Carlin.

Published by Walker Books, 2013. Reviewed by Dawn McNiff

This is a beautiful picture book for young children. Tender and touching, and delivering a vital message for our time.

Nicola Davies - a well-known author, nature-writer, zoologist, and past TV presenter on The Really Wild Show - writes an impassioned plea in a perfectly measured, graceful text. This is complemented by debut illustrator Laura Carlin's softly-drawn images. The effect is magical. Quiet but powerful.

The premise of the book is simple - an ugly, soulless city full of dead-inside, miserable people. Bleak futility, drawn in grey, harsh lines.

A young-girl-turned-thief moves through this hopeless dystopia. She has no connection to anything or anyone...until she steals a bag of acorns from an old lady. She makes a promise to the lady, and keeps it.

And as the girl sows her seeds of change, her life and her city become gradually transformed. Contact with nature brings out the best in people. Little by little, nature returns, and the colour seeps back into the pictures, bringing vitality, hope and smiles to faces.

The book delivers a pass-it-on message: hard-heartedness is catching, but so is kindness and care.

I love this book. It reminds me of the old Greek proverb - 'A society grows great when people plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.'

I think it truly deserves to become a classic.



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