Blow, Wind, Blow
Creative, playful and thought-provoking, this book follows the journey of Wind – breezes, gusts and cyclones – around the world and then back to its starting point, which turns out to be slightly unexpected.
From the opening lines, Dom Conlon uses marvellous kenning-style word combinations – ‘lawn-prowler, mist-parter’ – that create fresh connections. His similes link the familiar in unfamiliar partnerships, so that a child reader will grasp the cat-like qualities of the wind and puff their own cheek out like a hot-air balloon. This is a poem to read aloud with relish, savouring the words so carefully chosen for vivid effect. In the course of a couple of spreads, Wind ‘curl[s]’, ‘scatters’, ‘plucks’ , ‘helicopters’ then ‘whistles away with a laugh’. The rich variety of verbs is one aspect of the superb personification achieved in this book; however, this is not a sentimental creation for as the Facts section at the back explains ‘this is the story of the good things (and the bad things) it can do’. Initially, the reader is urging the wind to go further, grow stronger, but then the mood darkens, and the danger mounts and it is time to ‘Slow Wind, Slow’. The change of pace and the mounting pressure is then resolved back to calm. These transitions are reflected and intensified by Anastasia Islesov’s marvellously versatile illustrations which do so much to enrich this book, already a word-feast.
The curious reader will be prompted to ask many questions by this poem. What does it mean that the wind is a ‘heat-snatcher, pressure-catcher’? Why are there a sheep, a duck and a rooster in the hot air balloon? These questions are fully answered at the end of the poem, in the excellent Wind Facts section, but I enjoy the gap between the prompting and the answering; there is a space here for questioning and imagining that suits this book well. I think children will appreciate the surprise of the final illustration before the facts section, and will then spend time poring over its ingenious details and comparing it with earlier pages. Without wishing to steal that surprise from other readers, it is an ending that works. This is a book which will teach science and geography and even history, but it is also a poem that is in no way spoilt by the Fact explaining that Wind wouldn’t really carry a sycamore seed to the Amazon. This is a work of imagination that helps children to see the natural world afresh. It is a book to be shared whether in the classroom or at home, a book to be read aloud and joined in with.
This latest addition shows that the whole ‘The Wild Wanderers’ series, with its range of animal and Nature themes, will be well worth collecting; each one so far has been a verbal and visual delight. You can also read reviews of Leap, Hare Leap and Swim, Shark, Swim.
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