Saturday, 22 April 2017

Perfect by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Cathy Fisher - reviewed by Damian Harvey

Published by Graffeg, an independent Welsh publisher, and longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017, this picture book may well have slipped past many people - and that would be a great shame.  Written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Cathy Fisher, Perfect is, in my opinion, just that - Perfect. 

The story itself is about the birth of a disabled baby, told from the point of view of the older sibling - but it's much more than that too. The young boy in the story loves the top floor room of their pointy little house. He loves watching the swifts that nest in the roof above the window and he loves watching as they swoop and fly around above their garden. All winter, the boy eagerly awaits their return - and this winter he also awaits the arrival of their new baby.

The baby arrives on the same day that the swifts return - racing and chasing each other, "screaming over the rooftops with the joy of being home." As the boy excitedly watches them he knows that this is how it will be with him and his little sister... "racing and chasing, screaming with laughter and delight." But when the baby comes home from the hospital, the boy realises that sadly, things won't be the way he had imagined. There will be no racing and chasing - instead, the baby just lies silently in her cot and looks at him. The boy finds it hard to come to terms with having a sister that's disabled. He's upset and doesn't know how to deal with the emotions that he feels, so instead of interacting with new baby, the boy turns away to hide his tears and stares up at the birds.

One morning the boy finds a little bird curled up in the grass. The bird looks looks weak, feeble and deformed but when he gently opens it wings he sees that it's perfect after all. The bird silently looks at him with its dark eyes and the boy thinks that perhaps it just needs a little help. Taking the bird up to his sister's room at the top of the house, the bird grips his finger tightly before finally spreading it's wings and flying from the window ledge.

When the little boy turns to his sister, she too grips his finger in her tiny hand and smiles up at him - "a perfect, perfect, perfect smile."  Perhaps, he thinks, "she only needs a little help."

Nicola Davies' text and Cathy Fisher's artwork are gentle, atmospheric and beautifully compliment each other in this delightful and powerful story that encapsulates life, family, and love. Perfect for sharing.

Find out more about Damian Harvey on his website and follow him on Twitter @damianjharvey



Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for highlighting this title, Damian.

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