I am the small green pea you are the tender pod. Hold me.
A little green boat sets out on the high seas. On board are a mother, a child, a baby and a dog. They put up their sails and entrust their care to the rain and the wind. They sail through dark nights and past frozen landscapes until they find a place of shelter.
On one level this is a lullaby. Simple, beautiful words to whisper to a small child.
On another, it is a story about a young family who climbs into a boat and sails until they find land.
On a third level, it is a story of humanity. The family leaves a place of barbed wire and darkness and throughout their journey, they have faith that someone, somewhere will welcome them with open arms. It is the story of the world at present, where people are so afraid for their lives that they put their trust in any vessel which will float. That they seek asylum in a world which is increasingly hostile to the displaced.
I love how the story works on different levels. This is very important in fiction for small children, who may not be ready to face the toughest questions and themes. The way Pea Pod Lullaby is written allows them to give the story as much meaning as they understand. The darkness and terror is represented only by a simple fence which might have been put there to guard the cliff. If readers are not ready to talk about war zones, they will not give it that understanding.
What they will gain, subconsciously or otherwise, is a message about being welcoming. About tolerance. An appreciation of the great journeys people will undergo to find shelter for their loved ones.
Glenda Millard’s words are perfection. Not a single word is wasted and she captures the responsibility we all have for people who put their lives in our hands.
The illustrations are beautiful too. At times it feels as if they have been created by a single brush washed over a page. The gentle strokes and colour-wash palettes fit with the whispered tones of the rhyme.
Pea Pod Lullaby won a Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2018. This is a major award in Australia and marks the importance and achievement of this book. It would be a lovely addition to any bookshelf, and a lovely text to promote tolerance and respect.
Thank you to Old Barn Books for my gifted copy of Pea Pod Lullaby. Opinions my own.