Review Blog

May 15 2014

Waiting for later by Tina Matthews

cover image

Walker Books Australia, 2011. ISBN 9781922077035.
(Ages 5+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. When Nancy goes searching for someone to play with her or read her a story, or play cards, or give her a swing or tickle her, she is rebuffed by them all. Mother and father are too busy, her brother is cooking, her aunt hanging out the clothes and grandfather is busy mowing the lawn. All tell her that they are too busy and to come back later. 'Later' is the refrain on each page as Nancy looks for companionship. Instead she climbs a tree, finding that the leaves tell her a story and the limbs allow her to swing from them, and the leaves tickle her as she swings. All the things she wanted from the others she is getting for herself in the tree.
The story promotes several messages with an underlying subtlety. Parents and family ignore the child to the detriment of all. Many students reading this will tell stories of how their parents have not enough time for them, and the story asks people to re-evaluate their time spent with their children. But Nancy finds she is able to fend for herself, able to fill in her time by herself, able to occupy herself without the family. This too will be a telling discussion point with students. What is there that they can do by themselves? Do they need an adult or older sibling with them? But like all good stories, the family is reunited at the end, each learning something that will enhance family life.
Each page is illustrated using a Japanese woodblock technique giving the story a grounding in the familiar, the home and garden. Shown in wonderful detail, the illustrations beg the reader to notice and talk about what they see. The New Zealand author, Tina Matthews, a passionate promoter of the Free Range Kids movement seeks to advance her cause in the best of ways, through a simple and warm hearted story of a family. And now in a paperback edition will be available for all libraries.
Fran Knight

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