Tag Archives: Jill Calder

She Wolf

In She Wolf we go back 1200 years, to the Northumbria of Saxons and Vikings. Dan Smith has written this story about Ylva, recently arrived in England with her mother. Times are rough and almost immediately Ylva’s mother is murdered, and Ylva sets off after the killer to exact revenge. Because it’s what you did.

Dan Smith, She Wolf

There are wolves, and bears, and it is cold. She meets various people on her hunt for the three-fingered man who killed her mother. Some she can – probably – trust; others she shouldn’t. But it can be hard to know who is dangerous and who isn’t.

Ylva is brave, but also young and naïve and doesn’t always get it right. In fact, she gets it wrong a lot of the time. The Vikings are dangerous people, but as Ylva is a Dane, she is wary of getting too close to the Saxons as well.

This is exciting stuff, and you learn a lot about what it could have been like. Bleak. Not much in the way of creature comforts.

(Great cover illustration by Jill Calder)

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Walk the Walk

To begin with I have to admit to a few thoughts I had when I learned that between them Scottish Book Trust and the Scottish Government have put money into a scheme to try and teach people about the trouble with sectarianism.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

My mind immediately went to Islam versus some other religious group (whereas the book in question – Walk the Walk – is about Catholics and Protestants). And then I thought that I don’t believe in artificial stories or fiction that is brought to us to teach us how to behave. To top it all, when I began reading Walk the Walk (downloadable as a pdf here), I was unable to tell the Catholics from the Protestants. My first guess was – probably – the wrong one, so I turned the situation on its head.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

That in itself should prove that either I’m exceptionally dim, or that it’s not actually terribly obvious. Take away skin colour and religious uniform and we tend to look surprisingly similar. Set in Glasgow, the only black character is from Edinburgh. And with my Swedish hat on, I have to admit that this kind of official attempt to make life better and to have people love one another, sometimes might work, a little. So I’m pleased to live in a country where they at least try.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

Launched yesterday by Scottish Book Trust and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, the book will be distributed to literacy tutors across Scotland. It was written in dramatised form by Gowan Calder and illustrated in comic book style by Jill Calder.

Walk the Walk Launch, Gowan Calder (author of Walk the Walk), Marc Lambert (Director, Scottish Book Trust), Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs), Danny Parkes (project participant), Jill Calder (Illustrator of Walk the Wal

And for a story born in this way, it’s pretty good. At least the first half which I’ve had time to read. I think we should all give it a go. It might make us feel that those others aren’t so strange, after all. Whoever ‘those others’ are, which will vary depending on who you are and where.