Flood

Illustrated by Alvaro F Villa
Published by Curious Fox

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Over the next few months, we are adding reviews to our website of books that we have selected for our programmes and resources, as well as the best new books. So you will find some of these reviews of older titles interspersed with more recent ones.

Flood is a wordless narrative, which tells the story of a family forced to evacuate their home when a storm and flooding are forecast. When they return they find their house has been devastated by the deluge, but the story ends with hope as they work together to restore it. It’s a straightforward linear narrative which details the warnings, preparations for the storm, the evacuation and the reconstruction. The opening scene shows a seemingly idyllic setting; children are playing happily in the garden. It’s a moment of relative stillness and calm that will contrast with the later scenes of the flood in full throe. But the house is built close to the river, and the crow flying overhead is an ominous sign.

The digital artwork by Argentinian illustrator, Villa contrasts the brighter moments with the dark storm and is particularly effective in representing the ominous clouds that threaten to overwhelm the vulnerable house. It also captures the drama of swirling waters that crash through the ineffective barriers that the family have erected to protect their home.

The landscape format is ideal. A double-page spread allows a panoramic view that emphasises the house’s exposure to the elements. Single spreads are used for the interior scenes. Or as below, a double-page is compartmentalised to show activity simultaneously inside the house and outside. The mother keeps the children entertained and protected from the full knowledge of what’s to come, while the father prepares the storm windows.

Wordless books are good for developing visual literacy. Perspectives, point of view, colour and shape, the contrast of light and dark are elements that can be discussed. The body language of the characters in the story is an indication of how they are feeling. Can we tell if the children are worried about the flood? What does the mother’s gaze tell us?

And there is plenty in the details that will initiate a conversation about the topic. Why do floods occur? Can we build our homes in better places? What precautions can we put in place to stop a recurrence of the same problem? At the end of this story, the family have planted more trees which will reduce the water table and also slow down the water flow should a flood occur again.

Wordless books tell their stories without words, but readers can supply them either verbally or in writing. The single image of the storm moving towards the house could lead to a collection of words to describe the movement as could the page with the swirling waters invading the family’s home. Perhaps this could lead to poetry writing and the composition of a movement piece. These and further ideas are explored in our two week Take One Book sequence. To find out more about Take One Book visit https://www.takeonebook.org/