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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ships In The Field By Susanne Gervay. Illustrated by Anna Pignataro. Melbourne, Ford Street Publishing, 2011

A girl lives with her refugee parents in Australia. She shares everything with her soft toy dog, Brownie. The new life is good, with weekend trips to the country, where they can enjoy the forest and the river and the fields, in which are “ships” (sheep). But not everything can be forgotten. The old life, before the world changed, is still there, along with the experience of flight from nightmare.

What do you get when you put together two creative people with refugee experiences of their own? Probably something like Ships In The Field. Susanne Gervay’s background is Hungarian, Anna Pignataro’s Italian, but both are daughters of families whose old lives were destroyed before they came to Australia.

I can relate to that! A country like Australia has many stories like this one, including my own family’s.

The story in the book is more or less autobiographical, Susanne Gervay’s memories. It is gentle, a gentleness reflected in the beautiful, soft water colour art. It doesn’t hit you over the head with the message, either, for which it is to be commended. The message is there, but told gently and sorrowfully, yet with hope.

A good one to read with your small children. The recommended age is from seven up, but if you read it with them, you can give it to slightly younger children.


Susanne Gervay said...

My parents' stories are woven into Ships in the Field' as are Anna Pignataro's - we carry the past with us. However the vision is always love, family, rebuilding and belief in teh future.

Lan said...

Sounds like a really interesting read. I don't think I've read much in the way of European refugees. I like that there are illustrations too. All books should have illustrations regardless of genre and age!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Susanne, welcome to the Great Raven. It's nice to be able to weave your own life into your writing. That's something I've never been able to do, so kudos to you both!

Lan, it's a picture storybook, rather than an illustrated novel, but I do agree with you that there should be a lot more art in books. It's starting to happen again, such as in the gorgeously-illoed books in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series. Books used to be illustrated, whatever the genre - look at the books of Dickens. I have a first British edition of Mark Twain's A Yankee At The Court of King Arthur and THAT was illoed too. :-)