Pea pod lullaby by Glenda Millard

cover image

Ill. by Stephen Michael King. Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760290085
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Lullaby, Hope, Refugees. A small boat with a mother and her two children leave the barbed wire enclosed camp where they live. They sail across the seas, taking a huge risk leaving the war torn land behind them.
In beautifully simple lines, Millard extols the link between us and them, between the me and the you, between us and the rest of the universe. Each of the three lines stanzas underlines the compassion felt for the plight of the refugee.
I am the small green pea
you are the tender pod
hold me,

as they step foot onto the boat, to
I am the falling star
you are the wishful hands
catch me

as they float across the boundless seas, to
I am the castaway
you are the journey's end
welcome me

as they finally reach shore, the message of interdependence and hope is suffused throughout the text.
Millard's bare words say it all, how people are set adrift because of war and dislocation, taking their chances on a sea of hope eventually reaching a place which welcomes them.
The trio on the boat meet another drifting things on their journey: a polar bear, far from his land, and whales which guide them back to the bear's home, while they sail on through the high seas, wind and rain until finally land is sighted.
The beautifully crafted water colour illustrations embrace the journey taken by the family, reflecting the trauma experienced in the land they leave behind and the discomfort of the journey they undertake, not knowing where they will end up.
Together the text and illustrations make a hymn for the plight of the refugee, tossed upon unknown seas, making their way across the ocean to a new land.
The collaboration between the author and illustrator came about as a result of a poem Millard wrote while writing for the Hush Foundation book. The two came together to produce the final book, Pea pod lullaby, which is a timely reminder of all of our backgrounds, as our families made their way to Australia, many of whom in situations not unlike the family in the book.
Fran Knight