The Story of the Blue Planet is a lyrical environmental fable and one of my favourite books of the last decade. It takes us to a planet which on the surface appears to be a cloned Earth. It is described as idyllic but with a raw realism that provides a delicious amount of tension and jeopardy in equal measure.
The story starts with the anticipation of the ‘flight of the butterflies’ and there is plenty of scope for tying in with work on living things, particularly lifecycles and environments.
Friends Brimir and Hulda arrive in this lush paradise and spend their days playing, climbing, laughing, telling stories and exploring, but it isn’t long before their friendship is tested to the limit. The initial delights of the ability to fly and plentiful food soon turn sour when they have to weigh up the gift of immortality with the lives of others.
With the uncomfortable arrival of an adult on the planet, the mysterious conman Jolly-Goodday, the children’s idyllic lives are suddenly tainted by this devilish adult presence. He brings promise and temptation and the children have to make some life-changing decisions that will affect their own futures and that of the other children inhabiting the planet. Everything comes at a price and the children and the reader is left to question the value of youth, of friendship and of life itself.
The story is surprisingly short with short chapters making it perfect for a whole class reader.
In addition to the moral dilemmas, themes of greed, friendship and trust; the story can be linked with a variety of curriculum areas including the study of physical aspects of Geography: Planet Earth, Sun and space and also society and community, leadership and democracy. Looking specifically at literacy there are excellent examples and writing opportunities for persuasive writing, debating, emotive language. The list is endless. The illustrations and typography also offer opportunities for developing visual literacy and linking with art.
Sacrifices must be made in this glorious tale that at times is reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It ticks every box for me.
The Story of the Blue Planet won the UKLA Children’s Book Award 7 – 11 category in 2014
We have included this title in our year 4 Take One Book teaching sequences because the themes work well for this year group. To find out more about Take One Book visit takeonebook.org
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