Review Blog

Oct 26 2020

Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker

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Penguin Random House Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781760893422.
(Ages: 4-7) Highly recommended. Anna Walker's intensely beautiful illustrations are again on display here and are matched with a gentle, moving story about a young boy and his father, who he lives with only sometimes. In the first few pages we are introduced to the two characters and get a little glimpse into their life together. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don't, Jack's dad seems to work a lot and smile only a little and he hasn't told a joke in a long time. The house is quiet and Jack wonders if his dad might be lonely. The house, gorgeously portrayed by Walker, will seem typical to many kids; there is food on the floor under the table, electrical cords lying around haphazardly and shoes, clothes and toys strewn around.
And then, 'One Tuesday night when Jack arrived, his dad had a surprise' and for the first time in the story his dad also wears a smile. It's a parrot named Jimmy and it's loud, it laughs at his dad's jokes and his dad seems so much happier now that the parrot is here. 'He's amazing!', says his dad. Jack wished he was amazing too.' So one night, tired of the parrot and its omnipresence, Jack opens the window and lets it free, only to feel bad and go looking for it in the morning. When his dad finds him he makes it clear that it is Jack who matters. The last few pages show Jack and his dad enjoying life together in a much more positive light (his dad is smiling and they are interacting happily) and Jack realises how loved he is.
There is a wonderful subtlety to the family circumstances here but there has obviously been a parental separation and the impact of that change has affected the relationship between Jack and his father as well as their emotional wellbeing. This is a sensitive topic but one that will be relevant for many children. It will provide a safe way to discuss life changes with those dealing with similar situations as well as an opportunity to explore different family formats with all children. Themes: Family relationships, Loneliness, Belonging, Love.
Nicole Nelson

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