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The Thing Paperback – 1 Jun 2017
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"Enigmatic, charming and quite beautiful." --Sunday Times
About the Author
Simon Puttock was born in New Zealand and, as a child, wanted to be a vet or an archaeologist. Instead, and after some considerable time and doing other stuff, he became a full-time writer. He has written over 40 books for children and has won several awards, including the 2016 Scottish Children’s Book Award for Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School.
Daniel Egneus was born in Sweden and has had successful collaborations with clients such as Haagen-Dasz, O2 UK, Marie Claire, Time Magazine, Penguin Books and Random House. He was voted best illustrator by the Association of Illustrators in the UK (2005). He has published many books including Little Red Riding Hood (Harper Collins) and Hot Dog cookbook (winner of the Prix Gourmand for Best Illustrated Cookbook in France).
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The text is never over elaborate and the illustrations with their muted palette match the simplicity of tone while retaining the wonder of the mysterious baffling Thing that is never explained but which leaves all who come into contact with it changed in some way.
A child's version of the obelisk in 2001 A Space Odessey
Then there is The Thing itself, which is obvious but inert, yet affecting everything around it... Is it love? Is it gravity? Is it death? Is it the space between us and other people? Perhaps only when it vanishes, as mysteriously as it arrived, can we start to work out what it might be from the shape of the gap it leaves.
I'm 54, hardly the target audience - but yet I keep thinking about what is going on in this book, and what goes on after it.
Oh and the pictures are wonderful.
This is one of those truly great author/illustrator pairings where there is a whole world of conversation happening between the page and the reader that remains unspoken. It is a balm in a world increasingly unsettled by the unknown; unnerved by not having the answers to everything to hand.
It doesn’t really matter what the Thing is, so much as its effect on the four strangers who are drawn together because of it. The huddle page is perhaps my favourite of them all. Collaboration, compassion, and friendship are key takeaways for me, and the dangers of ‘othering’, too. This Thing will be many Things to many readers, though, and for that, I would say that it is an absolute must for every child’s library.
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