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"Nuts to you" might have been what I was saying on Saturday when the class cold hit me so hard there was nothing I could do but lie in bed and create a mountain of soggy kleenex on the floor beside me. When I felt better enough to sit up for some soup and hot tea with honey and lemon (and more than a small splash of Old Charter), I picked up this recent library reserve and within 20 pages was laughing out loud and thanking my class for sharing the germs that stopped me from doing anything more than sitting up in bed reading:
These are taken from an interview with the amazing Zoe Toft
You might as well know my weakness. It’s ice cream. Any flavour, most kinds, regardless of country of origin. I am extremely ice cream tolerant and I wonder if Bob Graham had similar thoughts when he penned his latest picture book masterpiece, Vanilla Icecream.
Vanilla Icecream is an eloquently articulated tale about a young curious sparrow whose world revolves around a dusty truck stop in the heart of India. He enjoys his existence and relishes his freedom with the blithe objectivity of all wild things until one day his pluck and appetite hook up with fate, which escorts him south across rough seas and through dark nights, eventually delivering him ‘into a bright new day’.
Unperturbed by his new environment in a different land, the truck stop sparrow chances upon a new eating hole and Edie Irvine, a toddler whose young life is inextricably changed forever because of him.
Graham’s dramatic narration of the little sparrow’s epic journey stuns you with its beautiful brevity and makes you want to follow the courageous new immigrant and know if Edie’s and his paths will ever cross again. This is a largely self-indulgent desire on my part as I get quite caught up in Graham’s snapshots of life, wanting them to never end. Nonetheless, end they must and this one’s delicious denouement is as immeasurably satisfying as a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
There are numerous wordless pages in this picture book as Graham shapes much of the narration visually with his splendid, slightly sassy, culturally sensitive illustrations. Graham has the unique, unaffected knack of suffusing modern day nuances with old-fashioned appeal into his pictures that draw the eye of young and old alike deep into the story in spite of the apparent simplicity on shown on the page.
This story allowed me to sift through memories, mostly glorious of my own ‘firsts’ and it reminded me of my daughter’s wonderment when discovering her first time, life-changing tastes, notions, and realisations. What Vanilla Icecream evokes in you depends entirely on your own memories and attitude towards new people and new experiences, and your fondness for ice cream of course. However, you will be hard pressed to find a better way to introduce the complex ideals of human rights, fate, and immigration to young ones where a lightness of touch is more readily comprehended than harsh dry facts. As Amnesty International UK proclaims through its endorsement of Vanilla Icecream;
‘…we should all enjoy life, freedom, and safety. These are some of our human rights.’
Vanilla Icecream is quite simply a stunning picture book. Quiet and unassuming in its appearance. Complex and multi-layered enough to warrant spirited discussion with 3 to 103 year olds.
The perfect scoop.
Walker Books UK 2014Add a Comment
The illustrated adventures of three friends, which will be updated regularly. Go here to read and follow: bearandwhitefox
I haven’t been posting lately – I got unwell last year and have been in hospital a couple of times, but getting stronger day by day – yay!
One of my publishers just asked me to make a bio – she said I could draw it if it was easier…so here’s the result!
Wishing you all a beautiful 2013, full of good bits, sparkly bits, romantic bits, playful bits, fighting-for-those-who-need-someone-in-their-corner bits and tons and tons of giggly bits. Oh, and a huge hug and love too, linda xx
to be continued…