Written and Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith
“Then the dream spoke to me, and I took up the old wings.” These words from the cover of Farther sum up the book nicely. This stunning book speaks to its readers about dreams and carrying on a family legacy. Grahame Baker-Smith won the Kate Greenway Medal, which is a British literary award for “distinguished illustration in a book for children;” and it is no wonder, for the illustrations manage to be both modern and enchanting. They boast detail and whimsy. This book sparks imagination for what is possible in the pictures alone. The text is dreamy and a little forlorn; evoking reflection. After reading this book, a class of third grade students may explore what exactly calls the narrator’s father away, both figuratively and literally. The illustrations are crucial for students’ comprehension, so this book may be better suited for a solo read, but the text is rather poetic for reading aloud.
As a possible pre-reading assignment, students may look at the illustrations only and journal about their guesses about the story-line. After reading the book, students could journal about how their guesses matched up with the actual content. This book also offers a good place to start discussions about students’ dreams and hopes for the future, or about family heritage. Whether this book is used in a unit on family or dreams for the future, this book is a charming addition to any classroom.
Author/Illustrator: Grahame Baker-Smith
Publisher: Templar Books (Candlewick Press)
Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
Hardback, 38 pages