Noah Barleywater Runs Away
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This issue’s cover features Ally Kennen and her latest book, Quarry. Ally Kennen is interviewed by Julia Eccleshare. Thanks to Marion Lloyd Books for their help with this January cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 186 January 2011
‘One bite of an apple, after all, is hardly a satisfying breakfast for an eight-year-old boy, especially one who’s on his way to see the world and have a great adventure.’ Well, the ‘world’ to be seen, and the ‘great adventure’ to be experienced, by young Noah Barleywater are to prove to have a very different outcome from what he may have been anticipating. The general sort of reason for the boy’s decision to run away, if not perhaps its precise explanation, may be clear to some readers from early on but such foreknowledge will do very little to diminish the appeal of Boyne’s engaging blend of fable and fairy tale. Noah’s travels take him to eerily strange villages, to surreal encounters with talking animals and inanimate objects and, eventually, to a magical toyshop, populated almost entirely by puppets. Here, he meets its proprietor, the elderly man with whom he is to exchange life stories and, in the process, to see new light begin to shine on his own darkness. As an insight into how a young child has his first intimations of the complexities of adult life and of the processes of ageing and dying (and of happiness and fulfilment too) Boyne’s story is powerful and poignant, all the more so for being gentle and totally free of didacticism. Oliver Jeffers’ fourteen black and white illustrations, though minimalist in style, are strong in their suggestiveness.