Review Blog

Oct 01 2019

The land belongs to me by Alys Jackson

cover image

Illus. by Shane McGrath. Big Sky Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781922265111.
(Age: 4+) Themes: Cautionary tale, Ownership, Environment. When a beetle looks up from the flower he is on, he tells us that he owns all from the daisy to the tree, every flower and twig belongs to him. But the raven disagrees. From the fence post to the daisy to the oak tree belongs to him. Disagreeing, the farm cat tells them that he owns every nook and cranny from the farm house to the fence post to the daisy to the oak tree. The farm dog disagrees, adding what he owns, then this is supplanted by the cow and what she owns, then the farmer intervenes. All tell the readers that they own the land and all on it, repeating the string of things each says with an easy rhythm.
By now the readers will have understood the message that everyone thinks they own the land, and question perhaps who does? Turning the page the argument heats up with a queen, a pirate and a general disputing the ownership, the general using force to get his point of view across. The dispute over land ownership has taken a nasty turn.
Children will easily see the outcome of land disputes and through this story, predict what will happen when such disputes occur. They will be relieved when turning the page the story comes to a resolution, one that more should abide by.
The illustrations engender a feeling of comedy behind the story, diffusing the reality somewhat, making it more palatable to younger readers. This will readily encourage students to talk about their environment, who owns it and just who is responsible.
Fran Knight

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