In this gentle yet profound picture book of few words, we are invited to mull over the concept of time from the perspective of a child.
Every aspect of the book is carefully executed. The figures in the beautiful illustrations are so unusual that you stop to pore over them. They are all interesting shapes and sizes and every skin colour possible is represented. The landscapes are equally captivating; on one page I was reminded of the forests of Moominland. The deliberate use of various fonts to represent voices also affects the way we read and understand the text. The end papers with the phases of the moon are beautifully crafted, while symbols and images are repeated over several pages weaving the story together with modes of transport in time and space.
This is the sort of picture book you cannot flick through. Readers needs to commit to it and give it their full attention. But if you do, you will be richly rewarded. As a result it is very much a UKS2 text and pupils will need to be familiar with the conventions of a picture book to gain the most from a close reading. There is, for example, one page which I found particularly arresting. I could not turn the page as I wanted to literally stay in the moment. It would be interesting to read aloud and consider how the writer achieved this.
The poetic text could also be a rich springboard for ‘Philosophy for Children’ discussions and writing poetry as it ends with a reflection on mortality and love. Carpe diem.
As a teacher who is fascinated by the reading process and ways in which it can be slowed down with excellent picture books, I will be using Forever or a Day very soon.
Forever or a Day by Sarah Jacoby was published by Chronicle Books on 1st February 2018.
Laura Ovenden has taught English for over 20 years in tertiary, secondary and now primary settings. She is an English Lead and works in two primary schools in West Yorkshire. She also runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teachers group in Halifax. She is very interested in SCLN needs and runs courses as an Elklan tutor with a retired SaLT.