The Road Home by Katie Cotton and Sarah Jacoby
|The Road Home by Katie Cotton and Sarah Jacoby|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Beautiful illustrations are the heart of this book, with the lullaby of a rhythmic 'go to sleep' text throughout.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: September 2016|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
The year is winding down, and nature is beginning to turn her thoughts again to winter. As the leaves begin to change, and birds start to fly South, animals throughout the forest are preparing for this change in seasons. This book follows their trials and tribulations as they all try to take the road that leads them home.
The rhyme throughout this book sounds a little like a country and western song, with its repetition of this road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home. I did even google the words, just in case Taylor Swift has set it to music, but nothing as yet! We see several woodland animals preparing themselves for winter, and as the birds begin their migration, some field mice are tucking up, ready to hibernate. Wolves are chasing rabbits through the forest, but fortunately for gentle bedtime dreams, the rabbits make it safely to their burrow! This is where I find I have an issue with the tale, however, as the wolves are merely following their own animal instincts in hunting the rabbits - they need to eat, after all, in order to survive the winter, just as much as the rabbits need to run away. The hunting wolf is pictured with a young cub, so both of them will be going to bed hungry when they don't catch a rabbit for dinner! Still, the circle of life is perhaps a tricky concept for bedtime stories, and so in this one at least we simply see the rabbits escape safely, and the wolves still trotting around happily. I personally think that the final scene, showing the adult wolf and the baby wolf on top of a mountain ledge, hints that perhaps actually, they caught a rabbit for supper after all…!
What really makes this story are the illustrations. They are very softly, very subtly drawn, with beautiful shafts of sunlight, and tangled, rambling wildflowers. The animals feel very real - no rabbits in waistcoats here - and the backgrounds are beautifully depicted too. I have two favourite pages in the book. The first is a water scene, with birds flying across the sunlit sky, and some boats gently floating on the water. It has a very inviting feel, as if you are looking through a window, out onto a view. My second favourite is the final page of the book, which is of the wolves looking out across the valley, where birds fly again on the edge of the sky, and the sun is slowly rising, it's gorgeous, and left me looking long after I'd read the last words.
The text is well written, but it feels as if it is aimed more at the grown up reading the book, than the children listening. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, as sometimes it's good to expose children to language and rhythmic patterns that fall outside their usual realm of experience. I think that I just wanted to like this a little more than I did. The artwork is beautiful, but something just fell a little flat for me. I do like the hypnotic repetition of the rhyme throughout, and it does have a very soporific effect, but I didn't feel particularly moved, and I'm not sure that small children will necessarily follow what is going on, though at least they will enjoy the pictures. It is rather lovely to hold and to look at, and so for that reason I do recommend you give it a try, but I'm not yet convinced it will go onto the favourites pile.
If sleep is what you really want for your child then you might like to try The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Road Home by Katie Cotton and Sarah Jacoby at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Road Home by Katie Cotton and Sarah Jacoby at Amazon.com.
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