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August Discussion – Kicking a Ball by Alan Ahlberg; illustrated by Sebastien Braun

kickingaballAlthough our numbers were small this week we still managed to generate some very good discussion in both groups.  We may need to look at our dates for 2015 to make sure that bookclub does not fall in Book Week again – there is a lot going in on schools at that time.

We began by discussing the wonderful legacy of Alan Ahlberg, and his late wife Janet, to the world of children’s literature. Alan has published over 100 children’s books and, with Janet, created such award winning picture books as Each Peach Pear Plum and The Jolly Postman – both winners of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.  We noted he is passionate about ethical issues, recently refusing a life-time achievement award in protest against Amazon’s tax avoidance schemes in the UK (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/10/allan-ahlberg-refuses-amazon-sponsored-booktrust-award). In the past he and Janet also declined to be nominated for an award that Nestle sponsored in protest at the promotion of powdered baby milk over breast milk in developing countries.

The book, Kicking a Ball, is based on a poem out of Ahlberg’s 1989 collection of poems Heard it in the Playground, and has been revised and abridged for this book.  Most of us were unfamiliar with this collection which is out of print in Australia but can be ordered in from the UK.

Some of the lovely features of this book include the beautiful illustrations of French illustrator Sebastien Braun that match perfectly with the rhyme and rhythm of the text.  We noted the little touches of inclusivity in the playground with a child in the wheelchair and both boys and girls equally represented. The book is a wonderful trigger for a classroom discussion of life cycles, with the father teaching his daughter to play, and the bonds of love and friendship within a family.  It also offers opportunities for children to talk about other skills that they have learnt from their parents and hobbies that they share.  The map of the world in the centre of the book shows that football is truly the most played sport in the world.