Sunday, 22 September 2013

Picture Book Review: On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy
On the Way Home has become a well-thumbed favourite in the Bookaholic house. So much so that it even accompanied us on our recent holiday to Spain having been packed in the trunki by S!

It's a fantastic example of the wonders of a child's imagination, as Claire meets various friends on her way home and tells them about her bad knee and how she got it. Each spread follows a similar format but the explanation of exactly what happened differs for each friend.  The tales involve a big bad wolf, a slithering snake, a ghastly ghost, an enormous gorilla... among others. With each encounter Claire finds herself having to escape, getting dropped or falling in the process, and that's how she gets her bad knee. At the end of telling each friend the tale, the friend is suitably impressed: "cor" and "wow" being typical responses. At the end of the book Claire finally arrives home and tells her mum the truth about how she got her bad knee, in exchange for the biggest plaster in the box.

I love so many things about this book. but particularly; the wonderful alliteration used to describe how Claire comes across her many foes - the ghastly ghost glides out of the graveyard; the snake slithers etc; and the vivid descriptions of how the foes try to snatch Claire and how she bravely escapes them - punching the giant on the nose, ripping a hole in the wicked witch's shopping bag...

On the Way Home was first published in 1984 and the illustrations definitely evoke that era for me - the style of the children's clothes for example - but at the same time they have a timeless quality. The pictures on each spread are laid out in a comic-strip style and this, combined with the repetitive nature of the story which has helped with its familiarity, have helped both S and B 'read' this story on their own. (Or to each other as this beautiful photo from our holiday shows!).

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