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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)
by Sandrine Dumas Roy
Age Range: 6-8
The animals know that something is wrong with the climate. The ice is melting even faster than usual and the planet is definitely heating up, “the sun is too hot and there’s no getting away from it. We’re gasping for air and there’s not enough rain”. In fact the same complaint rose-up from every corner of the world so the animals decide to hold a conference entitled “What’s Wrong with the Weather?” because they really need to find out what is going wrong.
What the animals discover comes as rather a surprise. Their research all seems to point to one thing… farting and burping cows! Can the animals ever agree on a sustainable solution? All sorts of suggestions are made: The flamingo argues that ‘the cows could eat GM foods which are low in gases to reduce air pollution’, others think that cows should be banned. After a lengthy debate the animals finally come up with a solution – fitting the cows with ‘cowtalytic converters’!
French journalist and film director, Sandrine Dumas Roy cleverly tells her story, (with an excellent translation from Sarah Ardizzone), playing with sound and language as the animals discuss the issue. There is “shouting and babbling. / Cackling, clattering and chattering. / Giggling, gurgling and gobbling”.
A playful mix of watercolour collage illustrations by Emmanuelle Houssais enhance the message. There are animals carrying banners in a protest march, investigator dolphins dispatched on a fact-finding mission in strange flying machines and brightly coloured fish surgeons with medical equipment ready to operate (on the cows).
Inspired by an article in a scientific journal, Roy decided to turn the topical issue of climate change into a picture book for young children. Hot Air is an unusual, thought-provoking and delightful tongue-in-cheek look at global warming which will cause a few giggles as well as make children think about the way the world works and how important it is to protect it.