Author: Irena Kobald
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Age Group: 3-8
Synopsis: After moving to a new country to be safe a young struggles with the language barrier and loneliness. This is all changed with a small gesture of kindness.
The Low Down:
Language is a strong piece of who we are as individuals and as people. It is one of the biggest things that sets us apart and it can also draw us together. We can protect ourselves with language, help others, tell of great feats but with the same great tool we can hurt others irreparably, be harmed ourselves, and condone acts hate. We choose how to use language, whether to build up or tear down, to help or to hurt, to include or exclude. Irena Kobald’s story delves into this, not only as a tool but a a helping hand in a time of need.
My Two Blankets focuses on a girl whose life has been relocated due to war. She now lives in a place so different from her home that she likens it to being constantly under a strong cold waterfall. At home she covers herself in the blanket of her culture and language, taking comfort in the familiar. One day another girl welcomes her to the playground. They can’t communicate but become friends anyway. This new girl teaches her new words and about her new world. From this another blanket is constructed, one that the girl can use while she is out and about in this new land. One that makes her feel accepted and apart of what has now become her home.
Blackwood does an amazing job pairing this heart warming tale with illustrations that bring it to life. The main character is dressed in rich oranges and reds that reflect her homeland. She’s such a contrast to the new world she navigates that it really drives home how out of place she feels. Blackwood continues using these color schemes throughout the book, even as the girl becomes more comfortable in her surroundings. When the girl’s new blanket is slowly constructed it is in colors that contrast her own, adding another layer of meaning to the tale. Another phenomenal piece of this story is how the language is depicted. The words that people speak around the girl are almost like paper cuttings. As the friend teaches the girl the language, she is given new paper cuttings for her blanket. A truly unique and imaginative way of depicting the teaching of words. The pictures are perfectly paired with the text, complementing each page.
Again this is something that Bug has yet to experience. I can only provide examples and hope that no matter which side of this situation he’s on, that he remembers: being kind doesn’t cost you anything and is truly it’s own reward.
- Discussing the current events that could lead to situations like this one is a great topic for older children.
- With younger kids guessing what words the paper cuttings represent adds extra depth to the story.
I need more!
This is Irena Kobald’s first book. There’s little information about anything else online but I’d keep an eye on Google or Amazon.
Freya Kobald has a great list of books she’s previously illustrated. If you’d like to see more of her work though I’d suggest her Google author page over her website, which is slightly difficult to navigate and not up to date.
Add to my library:
UK Amazon:My Two Blankets
US Amazon:My Two Blankets