Pandora lives alone in a desolate land of broken things. She does her best to build a warm and wonderful home out of recycled objects, but she remains lonely.
Everything changes on the day a stranger in need of help arrives. Pandora isn’t sure she can provide what her visitor needs, but she responds with kindness and that is enough.
Her guest grows stronger and a friendship develops, but one day the visitor moves on, and Pandora is once again alone. A broken heart is hard to bear, but unbeknownst to Pandora, her friend left something behind which starts to grow, and soon Pandora’s once barren world is full of life, flowers and birdsong. Perhaps too, Pandora and her new friend will meet again?
As metaphor for welcoming strangers and seeing what riches and beauty they can bring us and how they can make all our lives so much better, reading this book at this time in history makes me cry. But it also warms my heart because it encapsulates hope – hope that life can take surprising and wonderful turns when we least expect it.
Whilst the resonances an adult reader might hear seem utterly relevant to today’s world, the encouraging message of friendship and optimism alongside the simply charming, soft-hued illustrations will appeal hugely just as they are to children (and others) who don’t see the political parallels. The inventiveness of Pandora as she fashions a wonderfully cosy den out of discarded junk will capture many an imagination, and the excitement of watching the landscape transform as a little bit of everyday magic takes over will get readers looking forward to spring and seeing their own gardens and community spaces transform.
A story to tug at the heartstrings, to makes us feel better, Pandora is wonderful gift to us all. I’m sure I won’t be the only reader to be inspired by Turnbull’s pared-back, reflective text and graceful, detailed illustrations to nurture seeds of hope and to strive to make what ever bit of the world we live in just a little bit better, despite our despair.
Sometimes ideas for playing by the book come from highly unlikely places. Like this:
The boxes these items of clothing came in “spoke” to me – somehow I saw quite some potential in them as book art. And so with a lick of paint…
…some plastic trays from the recycling and a bit of cotton wool…
…underwear packaging was transformed into mini versions of Pandora’s wonderful garden, all parcelled up in a something resembling a book.
With each “book” I put a small packet of cress seeds and some instructions. A few of these have been sent out into the world today and if you’re one of the recipients, here’s what you can expect if you add just a little water:
Our very own garden with Pandora and her friend has made us rather happy!
Music which you might enjoy alongside this book includes:
Other activities which would go well with the book include:
And before I go today, I’m so pleased I can share this with you:
Thank you Donna for the original introduction to this cartoon.
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by its publisher, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.