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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 Armin Greder
Age Range: 9-11
One morning the people of an island find a strange man sitting on their beach who has been washed ashore on his raft. The inhabitants notice that he is different, ‘he isn’t like them’. The men of the island, armed with rakes, are aggressive and hostile towards the man and promptly start to speculate about what to do with him. After much discussion they finally agree to take him in. His new home is a goat pen and his food is left-over scraps. The continued presence of the man begins to haunt the island inhabitants until finally they decide to take shocking drastic action.
This is an award-winning picture book by Swiss author and illustrator Armin Greder. The visual narrative is stark and sombre in swirling shades of black and grey with the odd flash of colour. Greder’s charcoal illustrations evoke a mood of fear and distrust, capturing the violent hatred and prejudice of the islanders. The fear of the man is expressed in the haunting images reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’. The text is poignant and thought-provoking displaying at times a callous sense of humour as it demonstrates the prejudice displayed by a society when faced with someone who appears to be different from them. It will make readers think about the treatment of those who are different in terms of race, religion, gender or nationality.
This is a picture book for older readers and adults. There is plenty of opportunity for discussion in the classroom on topics such as refugees, human rights, prejudice and racism. The publishers Allen & Unwin have also created some teacher’s notes which are available from their website www.allenandunwin.com. Readers might also like Greder’s book, The City too.