The promise by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Laura Carlin (2013)

[Welcome to my week of Sophisticated Picture Books]

promiseThis week it’s all about my most recent obsession, picture books for an older audience. They will come under the category “sophisticated picture books,” let’s say an audience of aged about 8+, although as always this is a suggestion only.

In a mean and hard and ugly city lives a young girl. “Nothing grew. Everything was broken. No one ever smiled.” The hardness of the city has seeped into the hearts of its inhabitants.

One night out thieving, our hero/villain encounters an old lady whose bag she steals. The IMG_1400victim makes the thief promise “to plant them.” Not knowing or caring what this means, the thief agrees. When she discovers a bag full of acorns she understands the implications of what she has promised and her heart changes.

From this point on the dull, depressing palette shifts slowly, along with the environment, and finally the hearts and souls of the people.

There is beautiful language in this story, in particular its use of similes, “A gritty, yellow wind blew constantly, scratching around the buildings like a hungry dog.” The message of hope and the importance of the environment would be wonderful to share and explore with an older school class.

Check out The promise at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The promise from Fishpond.

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