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Through the Gate

The author writes in the beginning of this Children’s Picture Book that change is inevitable, but it brings challenges and learning with it. Sally hopes that her children will remember this when things in their lives change. It is a message that she feels is important enough to present to children as they journey through life.

 She has written this story very cleverly, using the child’s internal dialogue to explain her distress. The language and illustrations reinforce the feelings that the girl is undergoing. The simple story becomes quite a powerful message when changes are recognised and dealt with. There is no conversation with adults; it is simply the girl’s thoughts. The only clue that there is an adult is on the last page; however the adult has no bearing on this story.

 When the child sees her new home, she is dismayed. Far from looking new, it is shabby, with cracks, broken wooden posts, weeds, and cracked glass. “New house. New town, new school…..nothing was the same.” After a week of plodding off to school the girl comes home on Friday and notices that something has changed. Cleverly, the author doesn’t say what, so you turn back the pages to look for the little details in the art work that are different.

 This happens for another week, but gradually the colour is coming back into the illustrations, and we find the girl patting a puppy on his tummy. On the following Friday there are more changes to the house, and again we have to hunt for them. The next week, the girl meets up with a classmate and they walk to school together. Instead of plodding to school, our lass now marches to class, she sees a bird, and tastes a plum.

 The beauty in this story is the strength given by the language of the text and the illustrations. To begin with, life doesn’t get sadder than the girl’s first sight of her “New home”. It obviously isn’t new and nothing is at all familiar. The depth of her sadness is reflected in the white, grey, and black shadings used to colour the house and its surrounds. The text elaborates here, “I plodded to school…I plodded home…” The colorful robin red breast in a grey tree is the only sign that there may be hope ahead. As we turn the pages, a few more colours creep into the double spread pages and the weeds seem to have flowers on them.

 The girl’s thoughts are so personal that we are drawn into her story and see the house through her eyes. As she notices things changing, her mood lifts, and from predicting a sad life, suddenly she has a friend, a colourful home, and a new start isn’t as painful as it first seemed. This is an example of an excellent meshing of language, illustrations and text.

AuthorSally Fawcett
PublisherExile Publishing/EK Books
ISBN9781925335415
Websitehttps://elbooks.org
DistributorExile Publishing
ReleasedMay 2017