We read this beautiful book by Michael Foreman on the eve of Remembrance Day.
Both the text and illustrations are simple and beautiful. As a read aloud, it is perfect. Each page brings exclamations, predictions, connections, sighs, expressions of joy and anger! The story? A boy finds a tiny plant in a pile of rubble next to a barbed wire fence – he nurtures it and it grows into a grape vine, spreading to cover the fence and bringing birds and butterflies and children to play. Then the soldiers tear out the plant and throw it over the fence. “Huh? No! Why?” – the class erupted in outrage!
The boy is sad and troubled and suffers a miserable winter with his family in his war torn home. Then in the spring he notices the vine is growing on the other side of the fence and soon seeds also sprout again on his side. With more watering and care the vine soon grows and the green tendrils become entwined as they grow up either side of the fence to meet together at the top. Again, the children have their beautiful garden. This time on both sides of the fence. The subtitle of this book is A Story of Hope and it certainly is. The discussion continued as we went for our afternoon walk outside. Questions, connections and thoughts still to be shared. How lucky we were to have a beautiful afternoon walk in the sunshine, talking about hope and peace and community. Books like this work their magic! How do we talk about war and conflict with children? How do we honour peace? Sometimes all we need is the perfect book to get us started.