Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Cathy Fisher
BUY – The Pond
Processing loss is something that we all come to know. A favourite toy, a pet or someone we care about.
There are occasions in a child’s life when a book may help to accept and adjust to a particular situation. Such a book may create a climate in which emotion can be expressed, and this is infinitely more important than ‘understanding’. How can anyone, adult or child, ‘understand’ the death of another loved person.
The Pond explores a boy’s loss of his father and how with the seasons, healing occurs.
This is a book of raw and powerful emotions and is suitable for kids older than six. Little ones are often better served by an oblique approach where animal characters allow children to participate in grief, once removed from the raw pain of human loss.
This exceptional picture book may also be useful in a classroom situation, allowing kids to discuss their thoughts and feelings as a group.
Dad dug a hole in the garden. The pond would be wonderful, waterlilies, tadpoles, ducks and dragonflies.
But Dad died leaving a muddy, messy hole in the garden and emptiness in their hearts.
Neglected it filled with rubbish and ugly weeds grew up around it.
Powerful images play with light emerging from darkness and the complexity of a child’s grief.
When a duck loudly announces itself in the bottom of the hole one morning, the youngest boy fills it with water for the noisy duck. For a moment there is re-connection. Dad’s words of excitement for the pond lift his heart. But the pond edge breaks and water floods into the house.
Mum is so angry and everyone yells. She says she will get the hole filled so no one will ever know it was there. Black circular scrawling lines hold the child as he screams at his dad for dying.
A time of limping through the daily routines follows. School, sleep, eat. The mud around the pond freezes, frost kills the weeds. Everything is dark and cold.
One day the boys return from school to find the pond cleared and lined with plastic. Mum says they can fill it, but it’s just a hole with water in it now, he can’t hear dads voice.
Time goes by and life returns. Beneath the green surface gunge, tadpoles and diving beetles swim.
A beautiful parallel which reinforces the harshness of nature, the inevitability of the seasons, somehow echoing and reinforcing the certainties of birth, life and death.
Goggles on, the boys brave the surface to discover nature has regenerated what was once barren and a source of sadness. Mum find dads old snorkel and joins in.
A new chapter has begun. Mum bakes a cake to celebrate the first dragonfly and a waterlily plant makes the perfect birthday gift.
Now his conversations with dad come freely. Lying beside the pond, he tells dad about all the things that have grown and confides that the pond is not really big enough for ducks after all.
Dad was right about the waterlilies. Their wonderful flat leaves were just like stepping stones and the fat buds began to open the day they moved.
It was time to say goodbye.
Mum said the first thing they would do at their new house was to make a pond.
Powerful and reflective.