Alone! – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: A timely creation, stunning illustrations.
Children’s book title: Alone!
Children’s author: Barry Falls.
Genre: fiction picture book.
Published by: Pavilion Books.
Recommended for children aged: 3+
This edition published: March 2021.
This children’s book is ideal for: helping young readers to consider what is important to them.
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We need other people and yet we crave to be alone; this could be, among the many plausible contenders, the most pressing paradox of being human.
All our lives we are forced into situations where we have to accommodate others, even when our wishes, or needs, tell us to withdraw for a while and just tend to ourselves.
In childhood, this is especially so. We are constantly watched, directed and marshalled.
Barry Falls has created a character, Billy McGill, who lives alone at the top of a huge, loaf-shaped hill. He is quite happy with this, but his world is regularly invaded by a strange collection of visitors, both human and animal. He reacts to them with a mixture of anger and impatience.
But as the story proceeds he begins to see that these others, far from being alien, answer some sort of need in himself and that he satisfies a similar need in them. He achieves a balance; for six days of the week he’s in isolation, but on Tuesdays all are welcome.
This is a timely creation. Lockdown has enabled us all to question a whole pile of received ideas. Is it necessary to keep going out to restaurants and eating the equivalent of four or five meals in one go? Is the constant pursuit of social contact really making us any happier? Alone! will prompt young readers to examine their own needs and to resist the normalisation of conventions that simply might not suit them.
And the illustrations are absolutely stunning! Worth the price of the book on their own.
Many thanks to Pavilion Books for the review copy.
If you like Alone! you might also like: our collection of picture books to read before you are five, our list of reception class books, NO! said Rabbit by Marjoke Henrichs, Can You Whistle, Johanna? by Ulf Stark and Anna Höglund, My Sneezes Are Perfect by Rakhshan Rizwan and Yusuf Samee, The Princess and the Pea by Emma Martinez, Scruff by Alice Bowsher and A Million Dots by Sven Völker.
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