The Wall In the Middle of the Book ISBN: 9781912650057
Published by Scallywag Press, 2019
This brilliantly satisfying picture book tells us in humorous terms about the dangers of building walls between ourselves and others. Not specifically about racism, although I have given that as one of the categories, it nevertheless has as the central theme our tendency to mistrust those different from ourselves. The little knight has built a wall between himself and the ogre who lives on the other side, and he is convinced that his side is safe while the other side is full of danger. The wonderful and imaginative pictures of the wall smack in the middle of each double spread, with the little knight on one side and wonderful animals (and the ogre) on the other is an ingenious way of making the story clear. The little knight is busily repairing the wall from a ladder and explaining to us in a self-assured manner just why the wall is important while not noticing that a flood has begun to appear under him – a flood with big nasty looking fish floating in it. On the other side of the wall are interested animals who wonder why the wall has appeared, and are finally scared away by a mouse. The ogre comes along and remonstrates with the mouse, who is suitably sorry, and the ogre becomes aware that something is happening on the other side of the wall – all this done in pantomime. Meanwhile our little knight is in deep trouble. He has finally realised that the flood is engulfing him. Good old ogre reaches over the wall and pulls him out, dripping, and hauls him to safety. The look on the ogre’s face when the little knight announces: ‘You’re the ogre who’s going to eat me up’, is priceless. ‘Haw-haw-haw’, he says, ‘I’m actually a nice ogre. And this side of the wall is fantastic.’ And off they go to meet all the animals and make friends. The message is subtle and funny and just right, and the pictures are a treat. Highly recommended!