The dam by David Almond

cover image

Ill. by Levi Pinfold. Walker Studio, 2018. ISBN 9781406304879
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Music. Dams. Loss. Hope. Picture book for older readers. Based on a true story told to Almond by Kathryn and Mike Tickells, two musicians, The dam celebrates the power of the human spirit and the beauty of music. In the 1980's, Keider Water in Northumberland, the largest artificial lake in the UK, was created. Farms and houses were submerged and a village drowned, but before that happened a father and his daughter visited the houses and in each, the girl played her fiddle for the last time. Then the valley disappeared and a huge dam and lake took its place. When the water rose and covered everything, it left a beautiful lake and
Behind the dam
Within the water the music stays,
Will never be gone.

Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, this poignant picture book will linger in the memory. The text is sparse and beautiful and the accompanying illustrations, first in sepia tones, and then gradually becoming more colourful, are stunning and beg to be examined again and again. The father and his daughter come alive on the pages, the love between the two and for music shining through the pages, with people singing and dancing on the banks of the lake as the continuation of music is celebrated even though great changes have been made in the landscape.
This is an unforgettable picture book, with author and illustrator combining to give the reader a lyrical story with wonderful imagery, truly a showcase of art.
Pat Pledger