When I was researching Noela Young for my recent post I found some beautiful words by Maurice Saxby. He compared the children at play in Keep Out with those by Jane Tanner in Drac and the Gremlin. Both are books about imaginative play. Making use of simple objects to create stories. In this case a tyre swing.
Here is the one from Drac and the Gremlin :
Compare this with one by Noela Young:
Today I borrowed several books by Noela Young from a library including Keep Out. This is a wonderful book, not just because the illustrations are, as Maurice Saxby said "the best ever drawn" but because this book celebrates 'people power'. A group of inner city children have nowhere to play. Each time they begin a game the neighbours and shop keepers chase them away until one day they discover a fence and a locked gate with the sign "Keep Out". They kids go inside.
"Inside they found the ruins of old houses that were being pulled down. There were piles of bricks, old doors, and windows - even an old stove, tucked away in the chimney, which was still standing. All sorts of rubbish had been dumped here, including a wrecked car. Everywhere there were things to break and no one to say, 'Don't'."
The children enjoy several days of wild and wonderful play although their choices may seem a little sexist to a modern audience with the girls playing house and the boys building a rope swing. Eventually the 'game is up'. The council team arrive to clear the space. Ironically there are plans to use this ground for a new "nice tidy park." The children protest so the workers invite their boss - the Council Engineer. "Then came the Mayor, the Town Planner and a young architect, followed by three aldermen." Not only do the children save the day but they are allowed to share their ideas for the new playgound including the name - Adventure Playground.
Here are some wonderful images from this book which was published in 1975 and is now out of print but you might be lucky and find this book in an Australian school library like I did.