Review Blog

Jul 23 2010

The important things by Peter Carnavas

cover image

New Frontier, 2010. ISBN 9781921042287.
(Age 4-8) Recommended. Christopher's mother does everything, from painting the house by day and reading novels at night. She 'had to do everything, for his father had faded from their lives.' One day she decides to collect small things that had belonged to his father, like a cracked mug, a hat and pair of old slippers, and takes them to the second hand shop. A few days later, they start to reappear in the house.
This is a heart touching story about a single parent family. Adults who read it aloud to children will be truly touched by the thought of Christopher's mother giving away unimportant things in an effort to forget Christopher's father. Children will identify with Christopher, knowing that quite often, unimportant things have special memories. The depiction of the special bond between mother and son is also touching. The mother is prepared to bring back home all the unimportant things for Christopher to help him remember his father, even though, as Carnavas beautifully shows in one picture, they make her sad.
Carnavas' illustrations perfectly capture the mood of the mother and child. The reader immediately senses the despondency of the mother as she looks at the little things left behind by Christopher's father. Her love shows through clearly as she plays games with Christopher. Christopher's joy at having his father's possessions back is drawn exquisitely as he plays the piano, wearing his father's hat and slippers.
I was particularly struck by the idea of a father fading away from their lives, and I am sure this will strike a chord with young readers. I'm certain that this book will become very special for those children who live in a single parent family, as it is so insightful about the feelings of both the parent and child.
Pat Pledger

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