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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)
Pockety: The Tortoise Who Lived As She Pleased
by Florence Seyvos
Age Range: 9-11
Pockety is a tortoise who longs for independence. One day she says goodbye to her parents and leaves home so that she can go and live as a grown-up. She meets Thumb who also wants to live as a grown-up and they set up home together. They are very happy until tragedy strikes when Thumb is struck dead by a stone as they stroll along the riverbank. Now alone in the hut she once shared with Thumb, Pockety is devastated and inconsolable. Struggling to deal with her grief Pockety writes letters to herself from Thumb. To begin with it helps but then she has to face the reality that Thumb is never coming back.
This is a beautiful tale full of pathos showing the many facets of grief. But there is also terrific humour too such as when an artistic snail called Thingummy comes to stay; Pockety is none too pleased but she tolerates the snail and they do achieve an unlikely form of companionship. It is only when Pockety sets out on a journey that she begins to find friendship, meeting Pippin the hedgehog, who makes excellent blueberry pancakes, and another tortoise called Nester.
Pockety is a multi-layered story that can be appreciated on many different levels. It is about loss and grief, with Pockety gradually moving through the grieving process until she is able to remember Thumb with less pain and is finally able to embrace life again.
French writer Florence Seyvos is a renowned adult fiction author and screenwriter rarely venturing into children’s literature but she teamed up with Claude Ponti, one of the best and most famous illustrators in France, and together they created the Pockety story.
This tale of love and loss is beautifully conveyed and the subject of bereavement has been sensitively dealt with by such disarming humour in the text that is complimented by Ponti’s amusing pen-and-ink illustrations.