Monday, December 29, 2008

Pete and Roland by Bob Graham

Books with emotional narratives really appeal to me. Bob Graham has created a masterpiece in this little gem. Pete finds a small, blue budgie in his yard very early one morning. You can feel his quiet wonder, excitement and anticipation as the bird flops onto his hand and he takes it to show his sleepy parents. When they put Roland, as they now call him, into a cage the emotions change to shock and sadness. This little wild bird should not be caged. But do not fear Bob Graham quickly solves this by having Pete leave the cage door open so Roland can fly around this wonderful old fashioned house with its wallpaper, picture rails, lamps and mirrors. We laugh when Roland “accidentally bites Peter’s Aunty quite badly on the finger” and are thoroughly enjoying the antics of this little bundle of feathers when Bob Graham packs another emotional punch telling us Roland is gone. Looking into the illustration you can clearly see what has happened, someone has left the window open.

I always stop at this point in the story and talk about the decisions authors make. Bob Graham could end this story here on a very sad note but he doesn’t. We don’t need the fairy tale ending that Pete and Roland live happily ever after, just a little hope that both can be happy. The last two pages of this book are the real masterpieces of this writing and illustrating. You need to look very carefully at the final illustration to see what has happened.

I am very sad to say this book, like so many others in my blog, is now out of print. I own a copy which I found in an old school reading store room and I always include it in my reading program with children in Years 1 and 2.

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