Tuesday 25 August 2015

No! By David McPhail (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Originally released in 2009, and presented in a timely paperback reprint, David McPhail's stunning and almost wordless "No!" is a truly fantastic book
Sometimes, the power of children's books to put across an idea in a really strong and impactive way really can prove breathtaking. David McPhail's 2009 book "No!" is largely wordless but is stunning in the way that it uses a fairly linear story to deliver a whopping great whump of a message. The tale opens with a young boy, frantically scribbling out a letter. We can see tiny snippets of the text but it's not until the boy steps outside his own front door that the book starts to change gears. The boy lives in a war zone. Planes scream overhead, bombing local buildings flat. Tanks crunch through the streets squashing houses and blowing things up. Soldiers march down the streets, evicting people from their homes and arresting protesters. The boy walks on silently, intent on posting his letter.

When he encounters a bully at the post box, the boy has had enough. "NO!" he screams. "No?" shouts the bully in reply. "NO!" repeats the boy, standing his ground.

The boy's return journey home is succinctly different. We see more positive scenes as the tide of war changes to peace. The secret police are no longer needed, soldiers are helping people to move back into their shattered homes and are rebuilding the neighbourhood. Tanks become ploughshares, and the boy is given a bike ride by the bully as they both head back home.

It's then that we see the genius of this book unfold, wrapped up in the boy's letter - a letter to the President. A few short lines but reading them will make your heart sing at the genius of this story and the way it's been executed here.

On the boy's journey to the post box he sees...

A truly stunning and hugely important book indeed.

Charlotte's favourite bit: As the tide of war turns, a secret policeman and his dog make friends with a protestor they arrested for drawing a moustache on a presidential poster.

Daddy's favourite bit: Involving, emotional, atmospheric. A largely wordless story told in such an incredible way, and filled with an important message of hope. Easy to see why this book has been endorsed by Amnesty International. You definitely need this book in your life.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books).


Written and Illustrated by David McPhail

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Release Date (reprint): 6th August 2015