Reviews /

Grey

Authored by Laura Dockrill
Illustrated by Lauren Child
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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In the midst of colourful surroundings, the child at the centre of this book feels grey.  Even though the sun is bright and the leaves are shining green, the colour has gone from life: ‘I am grey today. I just am. I am grey.’ As the child sits isolated on the climbing frame, a hand is stretched out and a voice reassures that even when we feel lonely or isolated there is hope; the colours are ‘still inside you’ and ‘I love you however you are feeling’.

Despite the melancholy of the child, the images suggest some hope: although the child is grey, the welly boots are still red and the cut-out pages hint at glimpses into a more colourful future. The child’s eyes tell it all – the mistrust, confusion and worry gradually changing to the possibility of ‘a big red hug’ and the acceptance of a more colourful future. And to emphasise the possibility of change, first the child’s pyjama top then the whole pyjamas change from grey to splodges of colour as the child and mother gaze together at the new moon.

Lauren Child’s artwork engagingly reveals the feelings of the child, the sense of loneliness and not belonging. Laura Dockrill, known for her advocacy of openness about difficulties with mental health, sensitively suggests to young and older readers alike, from 4 years to adults, that even when life seems grey, the colours are still there and can be found with help.