Friday 29 April 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th April 2016 - "Dear Greenpeace" (25th Anniversary Edition) by Simon James (Walker Books)

Our Second Book of the Week is a brilliant classic clad in new 25th Anniversary clothes. Welcome back "Dear Greenpeace"...
We've had a lot of discussions lately about environmental issues, and in particular whales.

It's actually my fault. Sometimes when we're on our own and Mummy isn't hogging the car stereo with dreadful Adele or Take That albums (no disrespect to either but GAH there's only so much a man can take) Daddy likes to claim back the stereo by playing 80s classics (right about now most of the mums who read this blog are probably screaming "HOW DARE YOU SLATE ADELE AND TAKE THAT WHEN YOU LISTEN TO 80s DRECK!"

We'll get to the point in a mo. One of the songs we heard was Nik Kershaw's rather floaty homage to environmental concerns. "Save the Whale" prompted a conversation where Charlotte demanded to know why the whales needed saving, which (as an 80s kid) prompted me into a full on frenzy of describing the efforts of Greenpeace and other environment agencies struggling to preserve endangered species against almost overwhelming odds.

25 years ago, Author-illustrator Simon James did a far better job than I could ever hope to with his utterly beautiful book "Dear Greenpeace". 25 years ago I wasn't really in the market for a children's book about saving whales but I'm so glad we've caught up with it now, as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a newly covered version.

A little girl called Emily is rather concerned and feels the need to put pen to paper. You see, Emily has seen a whale. Not out to sea, not aboard ship struggling to cope with the choppy waves, but in her garden pond.

Emily's letter asks Greenpeace for advice, and Greenpeace reply - rather kindly pointing out that Emily couldn't have seen a whale in her back garden pond. Perhaps an over-fed goldfish?

Greenpeace hadn't reckoned with a child's force of will. When they feel they're right about something they're extremely insistent (stubborn let's say) and it's a beautifully observed piece of writing where Simon goes back and forth between Emily and Greenpeace - insistent child and caring but firm organisation trading letters.

The way the story unfolds is delicately beautiful, in particular when Emily realises that whales aren't born to be pond-pets, they need to roam the open seas. Here is where the book is at its most powerful as Emily begins to understand why it's important to look after all the animal species we share a planet with, and why they should be free.

I swear, at the end of the book, it was all I could do to stop myself from bursting into tears of joy at the way the book neatly brings the story to a satisfying close - and even better, Charlotte's reaction to now knowing that there are organisations out there who love our planet's animals as much as she does, and wants to ensure that the environment is preserved for generation after generation to come.

This is an utterly glorious little book. If you missed it first time around all those years ago as I did, catch up now with the new edition. It's really rather special.

Charlotte's favourite bit: Emily's lovely reunion with the whale as she spots it at the beach.

Daddy's favourite bit: Beautifully written and illustrated, gorgeously observed, imparting an important message without sounding preachy, and delivering an utterly perfect little story to set your little ones on the right road to understanding the need to save our animals and our environment. It's pretty much perfect!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Walker Books)

"Dear Greenpeace"

Written and Illustrated by Simon James

Published by Walker Books

Publication Date: 3rd March 2016