Slog's dad by David Almond

cover image

Ill. by Dave McKean. Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1406322903.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. From the blurb: 'Do you believe there's life after death? Slog does. He reckons that the scruffy bloke sitting outside the pork shop is his dad come back to visit him for one last time. But Slog's mate Davie isn't convinced.' The bloke seems to know things about Slog's dad that are impossible for Davie to understand.
The collaboration of Almond and McKean had a winning book in The Savage, and Slog's dad is equally as compelling. The exploration of the possibility of life after death is a thought provoking one that is handled very well. Almond's sparse prose, interspersed with McKean's fabulous pictures, graphically tells the story of how Slog's dad, a bin man, gradually becomes more and more ill, until he loses his legs and dies. Slog's belief that his father has come back is so compelling that I rushed to the end to see what the outcome of Slog's encounter with the tramp would be. After reading the story, I then went back and read more slowly, examining the pictures and thinking about all the ideas that are presented in this tender tale of love. I was fascinated by the supernatural hints that McKean drew in his illustrations of the man sitting on the park bench and the sepia toned newspaper articles that alluded to other things happening.
This is a very touching tale that will appeal both to those who believe in life after death and the possibility of someone returning for one last farewell, and to those who are sceptical. Almond's story combined with the illustrations, allow for both beliefs to exist side by side.
Slog's dad is a wonderful story that should give rise to much discussion in a classroom.
Pat Pledger