A fantastic book to share with your class about a time of such impact in UK history. Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey are a class act at delivering stories based on WWI.
The story shows the lives of best friends, Ben and Ray, from playing in the fields near their homes to fighting in the fields of France. A simple story that is told fabulously well through repetition of words that draws the reading into life changing events for the two young boys as time goes by.
Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey have created the perfect primary school picture book that is fluid enough to be used throughout the school. The repeated use of the ‘pet’ mouse softens the blow of the harsh reality the men find themselves in and the cuteness of this allows younger children to focus on that. The clever use of imagery is how the text can extend the older children in a brilliant way.
The central cover alone is a split image hiding in clear sight. The darkened skies hint at events yet to occur and we find that the boy and the soldier are in fact the same person. This is only one of example of a number within the text. The page below also uses the hint of darker times through the emerging dark clouds while the wooden sign dates the scene subtly. I, myself, see a small cross that is supporting the tree. This is an example of prior knowledge influencing the reader.
Now for the teacher bit. As an important period in history, WWI fascinates adults and children alike. This story makes what is a dreadful time accessible to children to enable them to understand aspects such as the ‘Pals Battalions’ and trench warfare. Teachers know that topics change over time, yet great books like this can be used year after year in the period leading up to Remembrance Day even if you are not addressing WWI making it a must-have. As mentioned previously, if you are hoping to explore picture books with a class and investigate how text and images combine perfectly, this book is an ideal starting point.
A beautiful book that respectfully remembers those who went before.