My Two Blankets
Written by Irena Kobald / Published by Little Hare Books 2014
Cartwheel has arrived in a new country, and feels the loss of all she’s ever known. She creates a safe place for herself under an ‘old blanket’ made out of memories and thoughts of home. As time goes on, Cartwheel begins to weave a new blanket, one of friendship and a renewed sense of belonging. It is different from the old blanket, but it is eventually just as warm and familiar.
If you would like to read about the creation of Cartwheel and My Two Blankets, visit the related blog page by clicking here.
Books and Publishing review
Cartwheel and her auntie have to leave their country because of a war, and end up in ‘this country to be safe’. The country feels strange, the people are strange, even the wind is strange, and the language is very strange; cold and hard, it makes Cartwheel want to stay under her old ‘blanket’ forever. This blanket is in fact a cocoon of Cartwheel’s own sounds and words, her own language. Eventually Cartwheel makes a friend and starts to learn a new language, ‘weaving’ a new blanket of sounds and words, and presumably, new experiences. Freya Blackwood has used two distinct palettes to express Cartwheel’s sense of loneliness—warm colours for Cartwheel’s old world, and cool, sombre colours for the new. This works very well, as do the shapes she uses to symbolise the new words, which look like origami shapes. This might be confusing for very young readers, but could generate interesting discussion about what words would look like, if we could actually see them. Blackwood’s illustrations always enhance and extend the text, and in this case they not only do that, but also bring the difficult, nebulous problem of deracination to life, making it accessible to young readers. This is recommended for children aged four and up.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller
A girl her auntie used to call Cartwheel must flee from a land of war to a place where they can be safe.
She finds life there hard and cold, so she takes refuge in a metaphorical blanket of words and memories from her former life. In the park one day, another little girl smiles at her, then brings her to the swings. More than that, she brings her words, and Cartwheel says them to herself, again and again. The text is exquisitely simple, and the watercolor-and-oil images complement, expand, and illuminate the words with magic and delight. Cartwheel is always brown and orange and gold, as is the blanket she weaves in her imagination of the words and sounds of home. The other girl is blue and green and pink and pale yellow, and she brings new words to her friend in the shape of origami forms. As Cartwheel weaves those words into a second blanket of those colors and shapes, they unfold on the page in beauty. Loneliness, cultural displacement, tentative friendship, and an explosion of sharing and kindness are accessible even to very young readers. The final image of Cartwheel teaching her friend how do a cartwheel tugs at the heart with joy.
An amazingly lovely import from Australia. (Picture book. 4-10)