Title: King of the Sky
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Description: Starting a new life in a new country, a young boy feels lost and alone – till he meets an old man who keeps racing pigeons. Together they pin their dreams on a race across Europe and the special bird they hope can win it: King of the Sky.
This is a moving story about the meaning of home which will touch and inspire people of all ages.
My Review: This is an interesting and very relevant book but I’m not sure if it’s one children will enjoy as much as adults. It’s a hardback book around A4 in size but in landscape rather than portrait. Inside there are thick but matt pages of both illustrations and text. The story is told by the boy, an Italian immigrant, who has recently moved to a mining town in the UK. The boy is lonely and everywhere he looks around him makes him feel like he doesn’t belong in this country. But a kind old neighbour who owns racing pigeons becomes friends with the boy and gives him a pigeon of his own, one he names ‘Re Del Cielo’ (King of the Sky).
It’s hard not to give away the whole plot of the story, and I won’t, but through racing the pigeon the boy learns to feel like he belongs in this country despite being an immigrant. The message of the book is very relevant to today’s world with lots of immigration into this and many other countries. The book is in fact endorsed by Amnesty International because of its message of belonging and having a right to a home. I don’t mind the message in this book at all, I think it’s very relevant to our times and as the daughter of immigrants I feel it needs to be told. But the book never appealed to me to re-read it, there’s just something about the look of the pictures that felt a little too depressing.
The illustrations all look like pastel drawings and they depict the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the mining town (a place that didn’t feel like home to the boy) very well. But I just never warmed to these images and I’m not sure if children would either. Some of the pictures are simple and some have interesting extra details in outlines but I feel like the last image, especially at the end of the story where it ends on a happy note could have had more colour or been brighter to reflect this happiness.
To me this is an important book for kids to read. The message is very important to get across but it feels more like a book to discuss at school rather than one kids would choose to read. It’s just my personal opinion but this book wouldn’t have stood out for me to read when I was younger.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.
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