by Addy Farmer
Then Bella did something very kind.
'Would you swap this Teddy for my brother's dog then?' she asked.
|Just look at Dave - heartbreaking. Shirley Hughes' illustrations perfectly match the tone of the text|
What is it about this bit of Dogger by the genius Shirley Hughes that moves me so much? What is it that makes my voice wobble? First of all, there's Bella's kindness towards her brother, Dave (for me kindness is an under-rated quality).
Then as well, we arrive here at the very peak of the story; when Dave has looked and looked for his beloved Dogger and then so nearly lost him again to the little girl, before Bella sacrifices her prize for running and saves the day. Oh, the relief!
'Generally I avoid stuff that I know will make me cry.' Bryony Pearce
Liz Miller says, 'I love Dogger and recently had a very similar moment with my 4 year old and my 8 year old rose to the occasion, I think because he remembered that story!'
Amanda Lillywhite says that she finds Shaun Tan's work, 'almost unbearably moving. For me he captures the loneliness, silence and weirdness of Australian suburbia. In "Eric" the mother keeps saying "it must be a cultural thing" and you know that she has tried, in her own way, to reach out to Eric but her attitude is also a way of maintaining the yawning chasm between them. To a certain extent the family appreciate Eric but by being too careful with him and by being too conscious of his differences to them they miss out on really getting to know him.'
Eric touches on separation and separation comes in many forms.
Juliet Clare Bell says, 'The last two lines in Mile High Apple Pie (Laura Langston and Lindsey Gardner) where the granny has Alzheimers and can't remember much. Margaret, her granddaughter, sits on her knee: "I am Margaret," I say. I am your remembering."
Makes me cry every time...'
Of course, the ultimate separation is death and picture books do not fight shy of this. I am not a Christian but I always find it hard to read the ending to, The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.
"And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms."
Death, however gentle, is always sad. For me, the Giant's final separation is made more moving by his own redemption and the knowledge of the children's love for him.
'He had given them each a parting gift to treasure always.' Badger's Parting Gift by Susan Varley
It may be a picture book, but you have to be an adult to appreciate (?) the happy-sad circle of life ending as the grown-up son sings his late mother's song to his new baby daughter. 'I'll love you forever...as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.'Gulp. For her, the sniffle factor is to do with identifying with all the characters. Jane goes on to say, 'I read a lot of US/Canadian picture books out loud to kids when I worked in an international school as assistant to an American librarian. My impression is that British picture books do less overt wobbling (and I was asked to tone down Gilbert the Great for editors in UK). By the way, I just dug out my copy of the Munsch book and re-discovered a bit in the middle that strikes me as irritating, manipulative of the story and untrue - but it still didn't stop me gulping an snuffling at the ending.'
Sally Poyton talks about, Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch which she, 'can't read.. without crying. Not sentimental (it's German). Touching and beautiful.'
|Duck, Death and the Tulip - unflinching and joyous|
And then there's love, always love...
Ten little fingers and ten little toes always makes me cry when I read it to my children. Bryony PearceAnother SCBWI member says, 'I've got a tendency to be moved by pretty much anything, but the one that springs to mind is the bit in Owl Babies where the owl mother comes back. I think the words are simply,
"And she came".
That always gets me.
Dawn Finch says, 'Oh my god, just remembered Once There Were Giants by Martin Waddell and Penny Dale. So beautiful as she grows up, chokes me every time.'
Marian Librarian says, 'I could scarcely get through reading my daughter the picture book Tummy Girl without getting choked up. It's all cute and fun in the beginning, talking about all the things the baby can do, but by the end, the girl is growing up "soon you'll be my older girl, my bigger, braver, bolder girl and though you'll grow up in a whirl, You'll always be my tummy girl". Geez, I can't even type that here without getting misty.'
Emma George says, 'You know... the lines from both Tummy Girl and The Places You'll Go have been constantly in my head since I've read this thread.'
|Letting go can be the hardest thing to read...|
Sally Poyton loves The Red Wolf by Margaret Shannon, '...a beautiful picture book, where the king keeps the princess locked up in a tower to keep her safe. Upon her birthday she gets given an enchanted box of yarn and knitting needles. She knits her self an outfit to get her freedom...'
'If the world's too wild for the likes of me, then a BIG RED WOLF I'd rather be.'
Sally continues, 'Love this book - fairytale to the core with positive messages and a great strong female protagonist.'
Bridget Strevens-Marzo rounds off our selection of picture book words with this:
'Here's mine, an old classic from the US, which my kids and I loved when discovered thanks to a US member of SCBWI years back. I kept the title till last, as I'm doing here. It begins,
"It is almost Friday night. Outside the dark is getting darker, the cold is getting colder..." a couple of pages on, "when the one hundred and five people are showered and bathed, shaved and toweled, dusted and dry, they put on their underwear..." Only on the last page do we see them all 105 people together and fully dressed. We understand why we've followed them washing, getting dressed in all kinds of ways, then travelling from all corners of the city.'
'"Their work is to play. And they play beautifully." This still moves me. Isn't this what the best kind of creative work is all about? Oh yes, and the title: The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin, illustrated by Marc Simont Bridget.'
Many thanks to all those authors and illustrators who contributed. I know there are so many more picture book words which move us. What are yours?