Friday 28 October 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th October 2016 - "Home and Dry" by Sarah Smith (Child's Play Publishing)

Our second book of the week - and a double-header from Child's Play - is just SO SO good.."Home and Dry" by Sarah L. Smith...
Wow. You know when you read a book that is the literary equivalent of that scene in Pixar's "Ratatouille" where the restaurant critic takes a nibble of the dish, and it's so good that it instantly blasts him back to his childhood, reminiscing about fantastic things his mother cooked for him?

Well that's the effect "Home and Dry" had on me. Sarah L. Smith's story seems, at first, deceptively simple but just like the most fabulous Ratatouille it's a dish that's full of glorious flavours, delicately layered so that each and every bite (or to get away from the food analogy because it's making my tummy rumble - every single turn of the page) just adds to the glorious satisfying 'whump' you get with a good book.

The (wonderfully named) Paddling Family enjoy an idyllic existence in a tiny little cabin, perched atop a tiny little island surrounded by water. Mum gets up every morning to go fishing, Dad loves to read books and teaches swimming classes at a nearby town. Son loves splishing and splashing in the water, a natural water babe.

In another part of the world lives Uncle Bastian Paddling. He lives in a hectic world of high finance, travelling the world but always coming home to an empty house. When Uncle Bastian finds a long lost letter from his nephew, he decides that he needs to reassess his life - and more importantly make contact with his long lost family.

So begins an epic trek to find them. As the seasons change and the Paddling Family search for the last scrap of water to sail boats, fish and swim in and on, Uncle Bastian slowly gets closer.

Alas, he finds an empty shack when he finally reaches his destination. Then worse, Uncle Bastian falls into a deep puddle as the waters start to flood back in as the Autumn rains return. Will he be lost at sea and will he ever reach his family?

Sometimes you enter a certain state of mind when you read a picture book this good. You want to be IN that book. You actually feel a deep seated NEED to be a part of that book world, and this touching story of family and a simple life versus the hectic pressures of a high-flying career really spoke to me in a completely different way to how it spoke to Charlotte.

For her, there's a fantastic story of having fun, of mild peril, and a heartwarming ending (and the end-paper / back cover pic of Uncle Bastian is just SO SO SO SO GOOD - Do not miss it!)

For me though it just made me realise that it's very easy to "be" Uncle Bastian. That was me for most of the 1990s and even now that makes me quite sad. But not too sad to really appreciate how many other folk are going to read this book to their children, absolutely lose themselves in the glorious little details, but also come to the same conclusion.

You know you've got a book of the week on your hands when it makes you think very long and hard about your family, about what's important, and about yourself as much as this book did. You also know you've got a book of the week on your hands when you dream about it, and find yourself thinking about it at odd moments during the day. I really honestly hope many, many others love this as much as we did.

Charlotte's favourite bit: She loved Mummy Paddling (who is a MIGHTY mum, who still managed to go out fishing early every morning despite being heavily pregnant!) - Oh and that back cover shot of Uncle Bastian tickled her to death!

Daddy's favourite bit: Wow, I keep saying wow. It is definitely a 'wow' book - breathtakingly original storytelling, a theme that will strike a chord with just about any adult alive, and so many utterly glorious details that Sarah Smith has worked into this story. She's a hugely important talent and this book is just utterly and completely brilliant. Just stop exactly what you're doing and go and buy it right this minute, it's as simple as that.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Child's Play Publishing)

"Home and Dry"

Written and Illustrated by Sarah L. Smith

Published by Child's Play Publishing

Publication Date: 19th September 2016