Tag Archives: Sally Fawcett

A Home for Gully / Through the Gate

A Home for Gully
Jo Clegg and Lalalimola
Oxford University Press
Gully is a long-suffering resident of the park; long-suffering because every morning his makeshift home is swept away by the keeper. This should no longer be tolerated, decides the scruffy dog that happens along one morning, introduces himself as Fetch and claims to be returning Gully’s stick. Fetch calls a meeting of his 412 resident fleas and thereupon they decide to assist the seagull in a search for a more satisfactory place of residence: one “that doesn’t get swept away, where my feet are warm and dry, and my tummy is full” is the bird’s desire.
They leave the relative peace and quiet of the park …

and head into the city where, after being shown the door of a smart hotel, they come upon the seemingly stuck-up Madison who offers her assistance as city guide. The three circumambulate the whole city before ending up at the library for some R and R. Make that R, R and R for therein they meet rat, Zachary.

On learning it’s a home rather than a book they’re seeking, Zachary leads them out and eventually, to a likely spot. Then with Gully safely installed, the other three head off into the darkness leaving their pal to his new warm, dry abode.
Next morning however, all is not quite hunky-dory with Gully. What good is a home if he doesn’t have others to share it with thinks our feathered friend …

There is a wonderful vintage look to Jo Clegg’s warm-hearted, funny story, thanks to Lalalimola’s delectably droll illustrations. These she packs with diverting visual (and verbal) asides that cause the reader to pause for a while and spend time exploring every spread. This is an artist I shall watch with interest, as I will the author.

Through the Gate
Sally Fawcett
A little girl narrator, unhappy about a move to a new house, shares her step-by- step transformation from feelings of sadness and loss, to those of joy and satisfaction. The process is recounted as she travels with initially, downcast eyes, in a plodding manner to and from her new school; then after a week, the plod gives way to a mooch and the sighting of wild flowers growing through cracks in the pavement. Another week passes and she changes to an eyes-forward wander and hence, more awareness of the positives the environment offers …

The following week our narrator is ready to look all around her as she walks and thus, one becomes two walkers to school; and thereafter, things are altogether different.
Concurrent with the little girl’s changing feelings as new opportunities manifest, we see the new house gradually becoming a wonderful new home; but those aren’t the only changes: a lone bird on a bare tree builds a nest, finds a mate, eggs are laid, and life begins anew as three fledglings appear, just in time for blossom to burst forth on the tree.

Look closely at the spreads and you’ll notice a cat that plays a bit part in the whole transformation; delicate details of plants which, like the rest of the girl’s surroundings, change from shades of grey to full colour.
Sally Fawcett orchestrates this lovely story of change, hope and resilience superbly using a patterned text in tandem with subtly changing scenes of the girl’s actual and metaphorical journey.

I’ve signed the charter  

What Could It Be?


What Could It Be?
Sally Fawcett
EK Books
I love books that invite children to be creative and this one certainly does just that and more. Subtitled Exploring the Imaginative World of Shapes we do so courtesy of a boy (observant readers will discover his name further into the book) and his rhyming narrative which, on the opening spread says, ‘This is a CIRCLE./What else could it be?’ and goes on to demonstrate over the page …


Thus, readers are immediately drawn into a playful exploration of basic 2D shapes and how they can be transformed into all manner of exciting objects.
Next comes the square followed by the triangle …


(there’s artistic license here but the ‘can you find?’ questions all relate to 2D shapes). Next comes the rectangle and a bedroom scene wherein we see all seven of the shapes included in the game.


Another basic shape known to most pre-schoolers, the hexagon calls for the donning of a superhero cape by our narrator as he climbs to rescue his football, while his younger sister plays in her sandpit (a hexagonal enclosure, of course) close by.
Ovals come next and I particularly like the way these are transformed into a teapot ready for afternoon tea…


and the final encounter is with the octagon and we have a seaside scene. Having explored the basics so to speak, the narrator then suggests readers start creating by making their own templates and letting their ideas flow …
There’s even a suggestion to upload personal artwork onto the publisher’s website if further incentive is needed.
Now that your thinking is out of the square,/pull out a pencil and pull up a chair.’ And that’s where children’s thinking needs to go … away from things that can be tested, measured and compared: if only all teachers might find the courage to keep offering the spaces for this to happen. Just do it!

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