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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
When We Lived in Uncle's Hat
by Peter Stamm
Age Range: 6-8
Three generations of one family are constantly on the move. They live in numerous different locations from a house with blue lights, a forest, Aunty’s violin, the moon and Uncle’s hat. Each abode provides a very different experience and the story gives a hint of how the family reacts to their changing circumstances in the final lines on each page. Eventually, after living in so many strange places the family find that elusive place called home.
This is an ‘off the wall’ surrealist book that will stretch a child’s imagination. There is no dialogue but the real skill of the pictures is the way in which the characters are depicted in such minute detail. Jutta Bauer’s beautiful intricate watercolour illustrators capture this flight of imagination perfectly. For each move there are also pencil black and white illustrations depicting the family constantly on the move.
The format of this picture book is unconventional in the way that the text and pictures are not integrated onto the same page. The prose is on the left hand side with the black and white line drawing underneath while the full-page illustrations are displayed on the right. Consequently there are two parallel tellings of the story – one through the distinctive prose and one through the careful and detailed interpretation of Jutta Bauer’s outstanding pictures. This is a picture book for older readers.