The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard
|The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Beautiful graphic novel based on a short story by the late Siobhan Dowd and brought to life by illustrator Emma Shoard. It's a story of the prejudice faced by Travelling communities and is somehow both unsentimental and deeply moving.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: The Bucket List|
|External links: Author's website|
Longlisted for the 2018 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
When Jim's family halt at Dundray, his heart grows heavy. A new Buffer school for this Pavee boy to attend. Jim doesn't like school. He doesn't like Buffers. And you know, you couldn't really blame him because the distrust and suspicion is mutual. Prejudice against the Traveller community is strong and when Jim and his cousins turn up on their first day, it's to stares and muttered insults from the pupils and condescension from the teachers. Within days, Moss Cunningham and his gang have accused Jim of stealing a CD - he did no such thing - and have begun a campaign of threats, bullying and worse.
But Kit is not like the other Buffers. She's interested in Jim. She's curious about what life is like in the Travelling community. She even offers to teach him a little bit of reading - something none of his teachers have bothered with. And, despite himself, Kit responds. Soon, they are meeting in a cave at the beach and exchanging a tentative kiss, or two, or three.
But blind prejudice surrounds them and violence isn't far away...
Ah man, but this is a lovely story. It's the first published work by the late - and greatly missed - Siobhan Dowd. And it has all the hallmarks of her later novels - sparse, clear but lyrical language; a clear and intuitive insight into the hearts and souls of young people; unflinching in its lack of sentimentality while still being deeply moving. It's been brought back to life here by the illustrator Emma Shoard whose vivid, vital and energetic broad-stroke work perfectly fits the prose. You can feel the purpose on every page.
My mother always used to say that prejudice against Traveller communities was the last acceptable form of racism, it was so prevalent. And you can see it here, in the way that everyone - really, everyone - makes school such an impossible undertaking for Jim and his cousins. The condescension of the teachers; the hostility of the pupils - Jim is on a hiding to nothing before he has even walked through the gates. But there's Kit, who has her own problems. There's Mrs MacKenna, the smiling librarian. There's the kindly man in the fish and chip shop, who was once a Traveller himself. All is not lost but the good parts are hard to find.
It's lovely to see The Pavee and the Buffer Girl make a reappearance, especially in these febrile times when we could all do with reminding to look for humanity in others instead of shutting them out. And I think Siobhan Dowd would love this production if only she could see it: Emma Shoard has done her proud.
A reminder: royalties and international sales from Siobhan Dowd's books go to the trust she set up just before she died. It makes grants to give disadvantaged young people the chance to read and enjoy literature. You should buy this book anyway but you should also buy it for that.
If The Pavee and the Buffer Girl appeals, you might also look at Asylum by Rachel Anderson which also talks about prejudice, this time against asylum seekers in the UK. Or if you are more interested in graphic novels that take on big topics, you could try Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield, an eloquent and semi-autobiographical graphic novel about anorexia.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd and Emma Shoard at Amazon.com.
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