Ivanhoe Swift left home at six by Jane Godwin
Ill. by A.Yi. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760631864.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Adventure, Growing up, Independence. Ivanhoe is determined to see what lies over the hill, to travel to places unseen, to explore the world beyond his home. His parents are concerned as they watch him pack. But Mum sings him a song as he walks off, wishing him well on his journey but reminding him that home is always there.
He has many adventures and meets a new friend, Maisie Jane. Together they cross the fast flowing river, calm on top, but moving quickly beneath and find an apple tree where they can eat their fill. Maisie Jane discovers a little house and asks Ivanhoe to stay with her. He tells her he still has more of the world to see. He sings a song to himself as he walks through the dark forest and his kite is torn by a group of bullies, but still he journeys on.
He reaches the sea, a place of wonderment and awe. He sits down to mend his kite but the fierce wind carries it away. Cold and wet, he recalls his mother's song and falls asleep. He wakes to find Maisie Jane and together they walk up the hill until Ivanhoe recognises where he is, and invites Maisie Jane home to tea. He tells his parents of his journey, singing the new songs he has learnt, and settling down to sleep, telling them that his adventures are over for now.
The subtlety behind Godwin's simple story of gaining one's independence will not be lost on its audience, as they all try out new things everyday, stretching their worlds, pushing beyond what is known.
Ivanhoe's journey is most satisfying; he meets new people, avoids the bullies, can see for himself the dangers beneath the waters, learns to sing his own songs and knows that his home is always there for him to return.
Supported by the wonderful light touch of A. Yi's illustrations, readers will love exploring Ivanhoe's world with him, seeking to find out what lies beneath and over the hill as he does. Her illustrations are full of life, moving with the boy as he explores his world, taking him to places he has not seen before but evoking a solidity with his parents through the words of his mother's song, written across several pages.