Review Blog

Aug 11 2015

How the sun got to Coco's house by Bob Graham

cover image

Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781406359008
(Age: all) Highly recommended. Interconnectedness, Sun's journey, World view
Graham takes the most simple of everyday occurrences to create a subtle and rich picture book extolling the interconnectedness of mankind. The sun's appearance in the horizon opens a new day for everyone as it climbs its way across the Arctic Circle, uncovers the barrenness of northern Canada, lights up Japan, then China, the Middle East and the cities of Europe until it barges through the window of Coco's bedroom.
Along the way the sun illuminates small pockets of the natural world: a polar bear and her two cubs, a trawling ship on heavy seas, a whale, a panda, a snow leopard, a fox and hen, a donkey taking his owner and his wares to market, camels trekking across the desert, an eagle high above. Each represents the vastness of the natural world, while interspersed with these, we see a child and his mother walking in the snow, a family in a yurt, a child in a plane, a Japanese street, a woman asleep in her tiny room, a boy putting his toe through the ice as the shawled women look on, and then we get to Coco. The sun marks each activity, shows the way for them to travel or seek out their world, communicate with each other, interact with their surroundings, bask in its rays.
The sun is the common thread for everyone and everything on this earth and its warmth enables us to live.
As Coco wakes to the sun, Graham brings his story from the world wide to the particular, as anyone familiar with his work will know. His sublime whittling down of major themes always makes me gasp as he distills the monumental to the specific. From the wide world we are taken to Coco and her family, waking with the sun, eating breakfast together, as Coco runs outside to greet he new day with her friends and neighbours.
Graham includes lots to look at in his watercolour illustrations, detail not missed by younger readers. I love the toy panda and polar bear on the floor of Coco's bedroom, duplicating the animals earlier in the book, or the theme of snow all the way through, of cold and ice. Many pages have birds still flying south for the winter, while some people are still snuggled up in bed. The detail of the old woman in her small room will encourage readers to ask questions about her and her lifestyle. Every page is littered with questions begging to be discussed and readers will overflow with observations and thoughts.
Again, this work is endorsed by Amnesty International 'because it reminds us that this world belongs to all of us, and we all have the right to enjoy life, freedom and safety'.
Fran Knight

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