Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Booky Advent Calendar Day 17 - 17th December 2013: "Winter's Tales" by Metaphrog (Metaphrog Publishing)

Booky Advent Calendar Day 17
Winter's Tales

Written and Illustrated by

Published by Metaphrog

One of our happiest 'discoveries' of the year has been the utterly sublime work of Metaphrog. Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers are the genius team behind the fabulous award-winning Louis graphic novels, which we have enjoyed immensely - and also brilliant graphic shorts like "The Photographs" which cover difficult subjects in a thought-provoking and extremely touching way.

With "Winter's Tales", a duo of short stories available only during December for the ridiculously reasonable price of £3.50, two hefty issues are addressed in a way that Metaphrog absolutely specialises in.

In "The Glass Case" the subject is domestic violence, and we meet a young boy who (along with his mother) is horribly mistreated at home by a violent father. On a school trip to a local museum, the boy encounters a strange doll which stares out at him from a glass case. The boy is entranced by the doll, and despite being ridiculed by his class mates, he returns to the museum after one particularly harrowing instance of violence at home to gaze on the doll again.

Amazingly, she comes to life - and soon the pair become friends. Sneaking up to the roof of the museum, the boy wishes that they could stay there forever.

We'll leave you to discover what happens next in the story but even as I'm typing, the thought of it actually brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

In the second story, Metaphrog revisits a classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, beautifully rendered as a comic strip, "The Little Match Girl" is a tragic tale that is still relevant today, as levels of poverty (particularly at Christmas) are once again hitting the headlines. The Match Girl sells matches on the street in the freezing cold but after a particularly bad day, the girl has no choice but to hide in an alleyway rather than risk going home empty handed. She is freezing to death, and in her desperation, despite knowing the consequences of using up precious matches rather than selling them, she strikes one.

A magical scene of a warming stove unfolds on the wall of the alleyway, and she can almost feel the delicious heat of it, but as soon as the match burns out the scene disappears.

She strikes another and a delicious feast appears - but once again all too quickly the scene fades as the match burns out...

Even if you've read and enjoyed the original story, here under Metaphrog's expert creative hands the tale is given new relevance and acts as a stark reminder to those of us who will be tucked up in the warmth with plenty to eat, and lots of christmas cheer, that there are those on the streets who won't share the same good fortune.

Please do take a look at this work. Though you may feel it's probably inappropriate to feature this in a christmas children's book roundup, it has been a genuine pleasure to read this with Charlotte and highlight to her the importance of not taking anything for granted, particularly at christmas as the cold weather sets in.

Stunning thought-provoking stuff.

Stop by Metaphrog's website for more on this and their other fabulous work.

Charlotte's best bit: The doll in "The Glass Case" coming to life!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Have tissues handy, this work is amazing but it will make you cry, I guarantee it.

(Very kindly sent to us by John and Sandra at Metaphrog)