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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 Maria Wernicke
Age Range: 6-8
As a mother hangs out the washing to dry her young daughter tells her about a passageway she has discovered in their yard. It's not cold, there's no danger, nothing bad can happen and the person she longs for is with her again. The child is fretful because some days the passageway isn't there and it's left to her mother to explain that “Although we may not always see it, / we can always go looking for it.” But maybe, together mother and daughter can find a way to carry that feeling with them always.
Argentinian author and illustrator María Wernicke has created an evocative picture book full of understated emotion. Although the text is sparse, Lawrence Schimel's translation is beautifully nuanced with each significant sentence throughout the double-pages creating a gentle absorption of their meaning.
Wernicke's illustrations in a predominantly cream, white, black, grey and red pallet have a child-like quality and provide such vivid imagery: the opening page sets a sombre mood showing a mother and child sitting at a table with two empty plates in front of them. This is followed by an equally powerful image of the mother hanging out two bright red sheets on the washing line set against a crisp white background. In another, the sheets are displayed as twisted into the figure of a dress with only the hem of the girl's skirt and her legs protruding from the bottom.
The passageway is always elusive and the reader is gently led along in the girl's imagination as she stands against a vibrant red background balancing on a chair poised to dive followed by an image of her swimming across the page towards a man. Finally, the two are depicted embracing with the words "It’s not cold". The man's absence is not explained although it becomes clear that he is no longer around and the loss appears permanent. The illustration on the front cover confirms his importance in the story as the girl sits astride the man's shoulders.
Some Days is an incredibly moving and poignant story with layers of meaning which are sure to resonate with anyone who knows what it means to miss a loved one.
Wernicke is an award-winning Argentinian author and illustrator who was a Nominee of the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.