I don’t usually request children’s books for review. Not having children ‘n’ all. Or being one myself. However… occasionally something jumps out at me and this book by Sally Fawcett did as it popped up in my emails just as my local bestie and my godson were about to move house.
Through the Gate
by Sally Fawcett
Published by EK Books
on May 1st 2017
Source: EK Books
ISBN: 1925335410, 9781925335415
Through the Gate tells the story of a child who has just moved house and is struggling to cope with all the changes in her life.
She relates to the dilapidated house she has moved to, as she sits sad and forlorn upon its broken front step.
But, as the story unfolds, the house is gradually repaired paralleling how the child's perception of her new situation improves.
Each time the child passes ‘through the gate', into the world beyond, she notices more of her surroundings and discovers that her new life has some wonderful things in it.
I’d shared a picture of the book on Instagram and flagged with my friend that I had it, and then she messaged me a couple of nights after they’d moved into their house, asking (in hopeful tones) if I already had the book or if it was still coming.
I had it, I said, and she was relieved as 5yr old Pickle seemed to be struggling just a little with the change. And it’s a big year for him. He’s started school (prep) and now he’s left the only house he probably remembers, which they’d lived in for just over four years.
I handed the book over as a housewarming present of sorts and Pickle flicked through the book and its pictures before planting himself on my lap to read it.
From the promotional material – which says it far better than I can…
The messages delivered through this story can be understood at different levels – literal and metaphorical. Nothing stays the same and difficult times will pass. A little effort in maintenance can improve our physical surroundings, yet our perceptions also colour our world.
These messages are relevant to both children and adults, as we all experience many changes throughout our lives and draw on our resilience as we adapt to them. Within the illustrations is a ‘spot the difference’ game that encourages interaction with the story and develops observation skills.
Younger children can be involved in spotting the more obvious changes and older children will be challenged with the more subtle transformations.
And… Oh. My. God, it was perfect! Thankfully I’d read the notes before I started reading the book to Pickle so I could engage him in relation to the changes to the house and he was tremendously excited, pointing out the roof had been fixed, the old sofa had gone, the verandah palings were repaired, the path fixed and flowers planted. And… rounding off the cycle of change the trees had bloomed and birds nested and hatched.
His mum said after that we should have filmed his reactions as they were delightful. She’s a counsellor so probably understood the underlying message better than I did, but I tried – in my own awkward way – to talk afterwards about how he and his mum will be making their house more of their own (more of a ‘home’) over coming days, weeks, months and years.
Fawcett’s a teacher and both wrote AND illustrated this book herself. As you can see from this trailer, it’s delightful.
I’d also say whimsical, but that’s a 49yr old’s perspective and it’s probably best to hear about this from the 5yr old – who was (the next day when I returned), slightly distracted by something on TV and rather tired but still quick to observe things like the spider and its web disappearing and birds and nest appearing:
So… I’m not sure Barbara Walters or Graham Norton have anything to fear from this intrepid iPhone interviewer of 5yr olds. (And #WTF do I keep saying, “Wow,” in kinda bored tones?!)
Of course I should mention this book isn’t just for kids who are moving house, but an obvious metaphor for those going through change…. a reminder that things get better, and / or at least we view them differently as time passes.
Through the Gate by Sally Fawcett was published in Australia by Exisle Publishing and is now available.
Teachers’ notes are also available.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.