PPBF – The Pond

Transitioning to a new home or community is a recurrent theme of many of the picture books I review. But as frequent movers know, moving generally doesn’t occur in the absence of other difficult transitions, as today’s Perfect Picture Book shows.

Title: The Pond

Written By: Nicola Davies

Illustrated By: Cathy Fisher

Publisher/Date: Graffeg Limited/2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: death, grief, moving, new beginnings, nature, healing

Opening:

Dad talked a lot about the pond. “There will be tadpoles,” he said, “and dragonflies.” Mum told him that our garden was too tiny and my brother said that ponds were gross and stinky.

Brief Synopsis: The narrator’s father dreamt of creating a pond in the back garden. But when he died, the pond was just a messy hole until it wasn’t.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out these fun pond-themed activities;
  • Do you enjoy a particular place or activity with a parent or grandparent? Draw a picture of what you enjoyed together.

Why I Like this Book:

When the young narrator’s father dies, he finds comfort in his father’s dream of building a pond in their back garden. At first, the pond is little more than “a muddy messy hole that filled our garden…that filled our hearts.” Neither the narrator’s mother nor his brother are interested in fulfilling the dream of a pond. When a duck lands in the muddy hole and the narrator adds water from a hose, more mess ensues, and the narrator runs to his room “and screamed at Dad for dying.”

Then, one day the following spring, someone, presumably Mum, lined the hole with plastic and shored up the edges. The narrator filled it with water, expecting no more by this point than “a hole with water in it.” But nature had other thoughts, “our pond had come to life.”

From the text and the gorgeously-dark illustrations, it’s clear that nature has provided the family hope in the midst of grief. I think this is a wonderful and soothing reminder to children who have lost loved ones to seek solace in nature and to continue pursuing their loved one’s dreams.

But there’s more to this poignant journey through grief. After finally finding solace in nature, the family move from the house, obviously unable to bring the pond with them. I’m sure you can guess their first activity in the new house, but I urge you to read The Pond to find out, and to share it with anyone grieving or moving.

A Note about Craft:

Davis could have ended the story when the pond came to life and provided solace to the grieving family. But she upped the tension with the addition of a move and the necessity of leaving the pond behind.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

11 responses to “PPBF – The Pond

  1. Wow! This sounds like such a moving story. One that doesn’t shy away from the difficult realities of life. I especially like how the ending isn’t tied up with a bow. Will add this to my TBR list. Thanks for the rec, Patricia!

  2. Death and rebirth. What a touching story about grief. I love it because it is so different! Will be checking this one out. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This sounds like a lovely book!

  4. The cover art is so beautiful! Must find this one!

  5. That cover is captivating. I am really looking forward to my hold coming through on this book. Thank you for the great review.

  6. definitely looking for this one. I love Davies’s writing… and am wondering how I missed this one.

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