A beautiful story that explores the feelings and emotions that young children experience.
Once There was a Boy tells the story of young boy who lives on a deserted island. His home is a boat that is carved out of an ancient tree and he spends his days picking fruit that tastes like chocolate and climbing the mangrove trees. One day a girl appears and leaves the boy little choice but to accept her as a friend. But friendship is the most delicate of things and when the girl’s curiosity leads her to a precious box, the boy’s heart will be broken.
This is a hard-hitting and emotional picture book that deals with so many issues. The girl forces herself into the boy’s world and he is very accepting of her. He feeds her, lets her sleep in his hammock (although it could be argued that he didn’t have a choice) and is happy enough to leave her alone in his home when goes off to get breakfast. Children are often very trusting of each other and this plays out beautifully through the note that the boy leaves the girl asking her not to look under his bed. Drawn by her curiosity, the girl can not resist temptation and the trust is broken as she breaks something that is most dear to the boy. Following on from this event the boy and girl experience sadness, despair and regret. The book does have a happy ending as the girl is able to offer something to mend the friendship and reconciliation triumphs over sadness. There are so many layers in this book and it is well worth taking the time to discuss the text.
This is a book of few words with many of the pages featuring little text and some pages are wordless. The artwork is beautiful and the wordless pages allow for exploration of the pictures and encourage readers to make their own interpretations. It is an emotional roller coaster for both the boy in the story and the reader.
Recommended for 7+.