Tag Archives: Sarah Garland


Not sure if we lasted the whole night or if we gave up after a couple of hours. Such is my memory of the time my cousins and I put the tent up in our summer garden and planned to spend the night. Cold, damp and smelly I can remember. But it’s the planning and doing that’s the fun. Doesn’t matter if it’s totally successful.

I just read in a magazine that nature is the new religion for Swedes, and I can well believe it. I like to be near the sea as well as the next witch, but draw the line at forests. Some people actually like them.

Mick Manning and Brita Granström, Wild Adventures

Brita Granström was probably drawing on her Swedish nature memories when drawing her latest book, Wild Adventures, with her husband Mick Manning. ‘Look, make, explore – in nature’s playground’ is what they call it. And it’s definitely got enough ideas to last several school holidays, always assuming your parents either play with you, or let you be indpendent, playing in nature on your own, the way it used to be.

It’s all about putting up tents and other shelters, and finding and using everything out there. Personally I’m keener on nettle soup than I am on frogs’ skulls. Mick and Brita tell the reader about sounds and smells and tracks and what you can eat and how you cook out in the wild, and anything else you could conceivably want to do.

I’m very relieved we had no such book when Offspring were small, or there would have been no peace.

In Sarah Garland’s latest book about Eddie and his family they actually go camping. Eddie’s Tent and How to go Camping also has rules and instructions for how to holiday in nature, enjoying it while not destroying it.

Sarah Garland, Eddie's Tent and How to go Camping

It’s a lovely book, but I’m glad I’m not Eddie’s poor mother, who simply has to go on with the mothering she always does, but in harder conditions. Tom plays at cooking and making fires, but a mother’s work is always the same, except when it’s worse.

Eddie and the girls love it, however, and they make friends and they have fun and they learn to fish, and to eat fish. It’s all pretty wonderful, once they have braved the motorway jams to get there. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. As long as you are not a mother.

I’m sure mine realised early on that I wouldn’t last long in that tent. I suspect it was the same old tent she had used when she was young too.

Azzi a second time

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I reviewed Azzi In Between. I don’t often review books a second time, and I won’t here either, as you can follow the link and see what I said then.

Sarah Garland’s book is out in paperback now, and what with the election looming and everything else that sometimes feels overwhelmingly bad, I need to mention Azzi again.

There are all these powers (-to-be, in some cases) who expect nothing good to come of immigration and refugees. Many who don’t want any strangers coming here at all. Because we are all so nice here and no one else can possibly be worthy of our paradise. Nice, apart from me, because I’m not from here.

The book about Azzi is one that has stayed with me. In my mind, as well as physically sitting on my shelf. We need to see that people need to leave the place they consider to be home. They don’t come here for what they can get, unless that is to survive.

Next week, please vote sensibly. And always, please welcome those who are scared and in danger and have nowhere else to go. If you find your imagination isn’t up to this, I suggest you read After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross. That way you too can be a refugee.

Going places

Sarah Garland might have been a regular at Lake Street. That’s where we took Offspring up to three times a week when they were fairly small. I suppose all playschools look similar, but Sarah’s picture board book really took me back.

Then I happened to notice that Going to Playschool, and Going Swimming, were first published in 1990, which explains the authentic ‘period’ feel. Because I felt as if that was my swimming with babies and toddlers experience, too.

These books are absolutely lovely. They should do very well for the really young person who might be about to go and do one of these things. Maybe you can’t read and/or explain in advance, but I imagine that the books would allow you to revisit a place with a child, and that they’d recognise it.

They feature a mother with a baby and a slightly older sibling. The older one knows what she’s doing. It’s the baby you want to watch.

Sarah Garland, Going Swimming

He (I think it’s a he) most certainly does not want to swim. And then he does. And then he doesn’t want to not swim and refuses to leave.

At playschool he does what the older children do, except differently. Very nice detail in the pictures here.

And what’s going on with that rabbit?

Azzi In Between

There is a lot to weep over in life. Interestingly, today’s book is related to yesterday’s concert review by topic; displaced children needing a new home. You weep from both the dreadfulness of it all, and also when things go ‘well’ because it’s easy to feel sentimental. Or not so easy not to.

Azzi In Between is about a girl from an un-named country, who needs to flee her home with her parents, seeking a new home and a new country in Britain. This is a perfectly wonderful story, and a very necessary one, to show our children in the hopes that they might learn. Perhaps one day, a new generation of humans will always make refugees feel welcome. Or even better, that one day no one will have to become a refugee.

Sarah Garland, Azzi In Between

Sarah Garland has written and illustrated this story about Azzi, in a way that can’t be misunderstood. It’s easy to assume all refugees come from an awful place and that they will be so very happy in the new country. Here we see that apart from Azzi’s country being at war, she has a beautiful home, and loving, well-educated parents.

Opting to make her story a ‘comic’ means that Sarah gets the message across of what was, what happened then, and the final result, in a way you wouldn’t with a traditional novel. The sheer horror of their flight, and the dreary surroundings of where the family end up, dispenses with the need for thousands of words.

I would like for this book to become required reading in schools, where I’m sure it would do more good than certain new bibles I can think of.

The one thing that rings less true to this reader of newspaper articles, is that it is unrealistically quick for Azzi’s family to receive permission to remain in the UK. But I can see you need it for this story to work, and I hope it will prove true for many unfortunate people who come here.

(Endorsed by Amnesty International UK)