The Children’s Book Review
Written by Stuart French
Illustrated by Madison Pollard
Age Range: 4 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Ethicool Books (2020)
What to expect: Environmentalism and sustainability
Ethicool Books is an Australian children’s book publisher dedicated to enabling meaningful conversations between kids and the adults who read with them. The Day We Went to Away is a formidable and informative picture book that will have readers contemplating how the waste they create impacts the world.
We throw lots of things away every single day. But where is this place called Away? Have you ever stopped to wonder? A young girl begins to wonder about this highly talked about place. Are the mountains made of toys and trash? Are the beaches made of plastics and steel? Light and nature-filled illustrations turn dark and ominous as the girl discovers that a world filled with litter is cold and dismal. She knows she must let the people of the world know what she has seen, and she encourages them to love and reuse the items that belong to them. The book ends with a call to action that reminds readers to “recycle, restore, donate, and make sure Away only ever exists in our dreams.”
Author Stuart French takes the reader to a far-off place that is both made-up and believable, and underscores the importance of taking care of planet Earth. Written in rhyme that reads with natural musicality, the text flows effortlessly along with the girl’s imagination.
“Over the hills and deep into days.
Through dark forests and trees that sway.
Beyond the beauty, and into the grey.
So this is Away the word that we say
When we throw all our litter into the day.”
The more substantial thematic undercurrents are carefully depicted with Madison Pollard’s illustrations that offer reassuring perspective without lessening the impact of all the waste we create daily. Complimenting the dramatics and moments of empowerment shared through the text, she uses both muddied and brighter palettes to her advantage. Her smart use of views and angles also creates an impact. When the young girl reaches Away, she is small compared to the gloomy gates and turrets that tower above her, and the moon looks sad, yet somehow the moon’s glowing rays reach the girl and allow the reader to feel that maybe not all is lost.
Introducing the world’s global waste crisis to young readers in a digestible and compelling way is no easy feat, but this team of creators has succeeded. In a time when young people are stepping up to take on global issues, The Day We Went to Away is the kind of book that will lead to thought-provoking conversation and encourage the next wave of activists. It manages to be imaginative, dreamy, and adventurous, while also being an eye-opening introduction to environmentalism and sustainability.
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About the Author
Stuart French is a Tasmanian-born author of children’s books and poetry. French’s first children’s book title, Remembering Mother Nature, sold out its first allocation within hours, with young readers worldwide captivated by the endearing narrative it unfolds. French has gone on to publish a further five children’s books, including When Grandma was the Moon, which is due for release in August 2020.
About the Illustrator
Madison Pollard is a Sydney-based artist and illustrator. Passionate about conservation and sustainability, The day we went to Away is Pollard’s debut children’s book, showcasing her magical and dreamy illustration style.
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