Beyond the Fence

by | Nov 12, 2019 | Book Review, Fiction, Picture Book

Book Details

Beyond the Fence
Maria Gulematova, Swindon: Child’s Play, pb, 978 1 846 43930 8, 2017, £6.99, 36pp.
Picture book, fiction, 3-7 years

Piggy lives with Thomas. They do everything together – but only what Thomas wants. Then one day Piggy gets the opportunity to do something by himself and he meets Wild Boar. Will Piggy be able to break free from the stultifying life in the Big House controlled by Thomas? Will he find real friendship and freedom?

This gentle picture book nevertheless presents a clear message. The text, presented in a clear, uncluttered font is precisely placed on each page, attractive and accessible to readers. The story is simple and conveyed in a large part through the dialogue rather than extended explanation. The illustrations perfectly match the narrative in directness and simplicity, the pastel colours picking up the mood of the story; Piggy’s enclosed life seen through a palette of browns, ochres and dull yellow; the freedom offered by Wild Boar a vibrant, expansive green and gold, the journey to freedom, fraught with anxiety, a misty grey. 

The author-illustrator has made a choice to represent Thomas and Piggy as very different – one a boy, the other a pig. This emphasises the relationship between them making clear that one has taken the position of superior, ignoring the individual needs of the other. There is no moralising, but the situation is very clear and can be understood by its intended audience, providing opportunity of reflection and discussion. An interesting thought-provoking picture book.

Review by FMH