Picture books and verse novels – both look easy until you try to write them. It’s true what they say – every word counts. As someone who has been labelled ‘Ms Verbosity’ in the past, I am in awe of writers like Pip Harry with the gift of distilling the very essence of individual characters with the brevity of astute observations.
The Little Wave introduces us to three distinct characters – Noah, Lottie and Jack. Harry’s lyrical writing ensures we empathise with each of their challenges, and celebrate their victories. Familiar themes in children’s books, such as bullying and social quirkiness are treated with depth and a range of perspectives. However, Harry moves beyond these themes, not shying away from bigger issues including hoarding and neglect which are captured authentically through the young characters’ eyes. This book is empowering without being didactic, and provides hope without being condescending. In short, this is an absolute gem of a book.
As with other books on this year’s CBCA shortlist, there is so much potential for a rich and engaging novel study, for both advanced readers and those who find reading challenging. Some ideas are below: