Publisher: National Library of Australia
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 01 August 2018
When Emma Allen read an old newspaper article about ‘family friendly’ flats being built in Erskineville back in the 1930s she was inspired to create a picture book which reflected not only a child’s appreciation of their own place but also a time line of housing in Australia. Ably illustrated by Hannah Sommerville readers are invited to join Digby and Claude as they create their own refuge as a bulwark against the changes in their street.
With their imaginations soaring and their plans expanding daily the two boys build a cubby that is more worthy of the nomenclature ‘palace’. Through a long cold winter the pair keep their dream growing and give each other comfort and company. When Claude’s father forbids his boy to play in such a dangerous place it seems that the vision of their special place has come to an end. But with the cessation of the redevelopment and the subsequent influx of new children in the neighbourhood Digby finds himself the newly appointed ‘king’ of a kingdom where all the children can play and imagine and dream.
The narrative concludes with two double spreads of photographic images explaining a wide variety of Australian homes over time, plus some background from the author and a reproduction of the newspaper clipping which prompted the story.
This is not only a lovely story about friendship, imagination and creativity but an extremely valuable addition to a classroom unit on the topic of houses/housing.
I highly recommend it for little people from around Year 1 or 2 upwards.
Hear Emma talk about the story behind the story here.