I came across this book at the National Library, and really enjoyed reading it. I think the girls were too young to appreciate it, but I had a great time poring over each page.
The illustrations by Olivia Lomenech Gill were beautiful, and there is a charming story at the end of the book about how the illustrator met the authors whilst they were overseas in France. Olivia went to Iddesleigh, Devon to interview the locals, and many of her illustrations were based on actual people.
I loved the scrapbook style of the book, based on Clare Morpurgo’s childhood experiences, with familiar British poems scattered throughout. Michael Morpurgo wrote a new story (typeset in cursive fountain pen script) that weaves effectively between each poem.
I only got better acquainted with poets like Rudyard Kipling and Seamus Heaney in secondary school, so it was nice to meet them again here.
I was also fascinated with Farms for City Children, a charity started by the Morpurgos 39 years ago, for disadvantaged children from the city to spend a week working as farmers in Nethercott, Devon. I think it’s a brilliant idea to have city children learn the importance of caring for farm animals and the land, the intense hard work that goes into growing food, and the value of working together in the beauty of the English countryside.
I wanted to write to the Morpurgos, to ask if they would take Singaporean children, on holiday in the UK for a week! But then again, I can’t quite say when we can make the trip, so it’ll remain somewhat of a pipe dream for now…
The beauty of this book is also the fact that all royalties received from it will be donated to Farms for City Children. Such a meaningful book, in more ways than one.