Friday, 1 February 2019

ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 1st February 2019: "Wisp: A Story of Hope" by Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker-Smith (Orchard Books)

Our first Book of the Week once again touches on a subject that is very much in the news, as important as ever...
As the media and tabloids cover the migrant crisis in a wholly inhuman way, once again it feels like it's left to children's authors and picture book creators to show kids a more human side to the issue.

"Wisp: A Story of Hope" by Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker-Smith begins with the story of a young boy caught up in the migrant crisis.

Idris is a child refugee who hardly has any understanding or experience of a world outside of his camp's ramshackle tents and shelters.

That is, until, the Wisp arrives, floating in on the evening breeze. With a touch of magic, this amazing entity shows people another existence, reawakens their memories and offers some slim vision of hope.

In turn, people who encounter the wisp recall far happier times outside the camp, their misspent youth, or long summer days. 

But what about Idris, who has no memories? What will happen when he holds the magical Wisp?

The story reaches a conclusion that is both beautifully described and quite unexpected - and it's enough to tip you over the edge if, like us, you're on a bit of an emotional hair trigger most of the time. It's one of those book moments that will live long in YOUR memory once you encounter it. 

Zana's beautifully heartfelt storytelling plays with language to further enhance the dream-like quality of this story with its all-too-sadly-familiar roots.

Grahame Baker-Smith's truly stunning visuals step away from his usual rich fantasy visuals for something more grounded, more identifiable and more subtle but no less gorgeous to look at despite the story's setting. 

We often describe books on the blog as being 'utterly essential' with a hope that they find their way into many children's eager hands. This is that type of book, a book that has 'award winning' written all over it (quote literally, as both Zana and Grahame have won a ton of awards between them). 

Something tells us that this is going to just add even more to their list. 

Sum this book up in one sentence: Heartbreakingly beautiful, sensitive and hopeful storytelling which - right now - is what children need more than ever before. 

"Wisp: A Story of Hope" by Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker-Smith is out now, published by Orchard Books (kindly supplied for review).