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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)
Story of the Blue Planet (The)
by Andri Snaer
Age Range: 9-11
Best friends Brimir and Hulda live on a small planet that is only inhabited by children who never grow old. It is an idyllic place to live but there is also a toughness that the children have to endure too. Each day is full of danger from wild animals to having to hunt and kill for food. “Each day was so full of danger and excitement that no grown-ups could have lived there without getting gray hair and withering away from stress and worry”.
One day a grown-up comes crashing down on the blue planet in a spaceship. This is Jolly-Goodday, ‘Stardust vacuum cleaner travelling salesman’, who offers the children the opportunity to learn how to fly in return for just the tiniest fraction of their youth. He sprinkles them with butterfly powder that, when activated by the sun, gives the children the ability to fly. The children love flying and become greedy for more happily agreeing to Goodday’s request. In order that the children can fly all the time Goodday nails the sun to the sky and banishes all the clouds. Bit by bit the children’s youth slowly erodes and they become increasingly divided and competitive, little realising that Goodday’s intentions could have fatal consequences for their planet.
When Brimir and Hulda come across a group of children on the other side of the island where there is no sunlight or food, Mr. Goodday is unruffled by their discovery: “There’s as much happiness in the world now as there was previously, it’s just been readjusted,” he tells them.
Andri Snaer Magnason is an acclaimed author in his native Iceland and his droll narration has a Dahl-like wit as he weaves an adventurous tale that is about selfishness and sacrifice creating parallels with a provocative parable on our own world.
The reference to the by banishment of darkness and clouds to allow for permanent daylight and no rain can be seen as a metaphor for climate change. It also subtly poses the question of whether it is ethical to be happy at the cost of others’ suffering. With an impressive translation by Julian Meldon D’Arcy and a mixture of black and white and colour illustrations that add a touch of humour to this is a truly memorable morality tale.