Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Naming of Tishkin Silk, Layla Queen of Hearts, Perry Angel's suitcase, All the colours of Paradise by Glenda Millard

There are some books where the words are like golden honey spread onto warm fresh bread. That is how I feel about all four books about the Silk family by Glenda Millard. In reading order these, almost spiritual books, are The Naming of Tishkin Silk, Layla Queen of Hearts, Perry Angel’s suitcase and the newest title All the colours of Paradise.

In The Naming of Tishkin Silk we meet Griffin. At his naming ceremony his Daddy had said “We welcome you to the Silk family and offer you the name of Griffin William Silk. May you rise up on wings as the eagle and may your heart have the courage of a lion.” Naming page 63

Griffin has five rainbow sisters- Scarlet, Indigo, Violet, Amber and Saffron. Each child in the family has a special name day book with a cover carved by their father Ben and pages of paper made by their mother Annie. Layla is a very special girl who makes friends with Griffin after his first harrowing day at school. “It wasn’t Layla’s smile or her cheerful greeting or her blue, blue eyes or even her shiny black hair that made Griffin come out from under the tree. It was the daisy chain that she wore like a crown on her head…. ‘I’m pleased to meet you Princess Layla,’ he said gravely, offering his hand to the Princess. ‘I’m Griffin Silk.’” Naming page 19, 21

Another very special character in these books is the family dog called Blue. In the second book Layla needs someone special to take for Senior Friends day. She meets Miss Amelie and Layla is able to give this elderly lady unconditional love and happiness in the last few weeks of her life. “Blue saw Layla’s distress. He moved his head, left a warm patch on the old one’s lap for her and watched the comforting begin. He knew the girl was in safe hands. The old one had a kind heart. She had rescued him at birth; unwanted, deaf and the runt of the litter, and had treated him like one of her own ever since. And his boy was a fine boy. He too had loved him from the beginning. It was no surprise to Blue when Griffin put his arms around Layla.” Layla page 84

Finally in the family we have Nell, the most magical of grandmothers and a very special little foster boy called Perry Angel.

My favourite scenes in these books are the special picnic’s and breakfasts held under the Coxon’s Orange Pippin which is an old apple tree in the garden. In All the Colours of Paradise Indigo makes the breakfast and decorations. “Indigo’s world was sensational. Hanging from the stooping boughs of the apple tress were hundreds of tiny blue and purple paper cranes. Even the tiniest puff of wind made them sway gently to and fro. From a distance they looked like butterflies.” Paradise page 74

These four little books are written for very sensitive readers. They are filled with poetic language, love, sadness, laughter, beauty and warmth. These books should never go out of print and should be read by mature readers who love fine words and aspire to live in a world like The Kingdom of Silk. If you loved Sarah Plain and Tall (Patricia MacLachlan), if you cried in Sadako and the Thousand paper cranes (Eleanor Coerr), if you treasure Hana’s suitcase (Karen Levine), if Old Pig (Margaret Wild) touched your heart then these four books, by Glenda Millard illustrated by Stephen Michael King, are meant for you.

To quote Maurice Saxby who praises The Naming of Tishkin Silk “A poetic paean of hope offering home and sanctuary to troubled souls of any age and any generation. This book nourishes the soul.”

One final quote to show the honey of this writing. This is one of my favourite descriptions : “(The Silk Road) meandered between the paddocks, a generous ribbon of gravel with a mean smear of bitumen up the middle and dribbling off the edges. Clumps of blowfly grass and scaly grey lichens trespassed undisturbed on the road’s ragged borders.” Naming page 16

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