Footprint by Phil Cummings and Sally Soweol Han

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We are reminded from the title of the footprint we all leave on our planet, and this idea is woven through Phil Cummings’ magical words, and displayed for all to see in the softly engaging illustrations by Sally Soweol Han.

Cummings invites the readers to walk out into the morning, breathing in the freshness of the open air, hearing the whisper of the waterfall, watched by wildlife which sometimes cannot be seen. He suggests they should rest awhile, taking a few moments to look around and think about what they are seeing. And breathe it in. Sometimes the way ahead is rocky and difficult but they will find a path to the top. Once reached they will be able to see over the space beneath them, taking in the deserts and mountains, valleys and the patchwork of country. Their journey keeps on as they float on the melting ice and the rising sea. They may be be shrouded by a mists blocking their way. There may be shadows, the future may seem dark, sometimes treacherous, sometimes slow.

Cummings gently leads the reader to the richness of their futures. The journey they will take will be full of wonder and awe. It will be diverse, and while it may include some sadness, the reader is encouraged to always be hopeful, to tread carefully, planting that seed along the way. 

Korean/Australian illustrator and artist, Sally Soweol Han has created a journey of discovery, paralleling Cummings’ thoughtful words. The pastel and pencil images show a range of environments, full of life and wonder, impelling the reader to seek out things in the background, to breathe in the atmosphere created by the words and the pencils. The child’s journey is sometimes hard, climbing high mountains, sometimes worrying as the ice melts and sea rises, sometimes with impure air as in the startling page of the factories, but always leading to somewhere warm and comforting, green and open spaced, where the child can breathe.

Cummings shows a future in which they have a place, one where they can plant seeds of hope, protecting the natural world and ensuring their footprints will not leave scars. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Sustainability, Conservation, Environment, Future.

Fran Knight