Review Blog

Jul 27 2018

Chalk boy by Margaret Wild

cover image

Ill. by Mandy Ord. Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760630683
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Visual literacy, Homelessness, Community, Social isolation. Bernard draws a boy in chalk on the pavement outside a busy railway station in the city. People are brushing past from all angles, hardly noticing the pavement artist as he works. Heedless of what is happening, some of the crowd eventually stop from looking at their mobile phones or drinking their coffee, and watch the boy come to life. They crowd around, taking snaps on their phones, eventually drifting off to their destinations.
Bernard reminds the boy that life is ephemeral, but he does not care, as life is wonderful
That night it begins to rain, and the chalk boy begins to fade. Bernard hears his cry for help and covers him until morning, when he will do one last picture.
This thought provoking scenario, full of reminders of the shortness of life, of the necessity for people to connect, will draw in readers as they see the implied criticism of our daily lives: rushing from one place to another, neglectful of what is going on around us, unable to see those in need in front of our eyes.
As the boy asks for help when it begins to rain, people walk over him, one man taking a selfie with the railway station behind him, others rugged up against the weather, intent on getting home, the plight of the boy beneath their feet ignored.
Cartoonist and graphic comic writer, Ord has a visual freshness, a darkly confident cartoon like style which will appeal to readers. They will readily see the variety of people shown in her work, appreciate the criticism of modern life and sympathise with the street artist, whose work is ignored. Each page displays aspects of modern life in a city, and readers will readily share what they see.
Award winning author of children's books, Margaret Wild often surprises with her deeply felt stories of the way we are and this will make every reader stop and take notice.
Fran Knight

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