Dianne Jackson Hill
New Frontier, 2017
28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Many people live in the tall apartment block, each living their lives without even knowing their neighbours let alone socialising with them. They didn’t even say hello to each other in the corridors! That is, until the baby moves into an apartment on the 8th floor. And like babies do because they have to, the baby cried, and cried a lot no matter how much his mother try to calm and soothe him. His cries could be heard all over the 8th floor.
And then one day, when he was a little older he found the pits and pans, as babies do, and of course he clanged them together, as babies do. His mother screamed in delight and the CLANG, AHHH could be heard in every unit. And something amazing began to happen…
This is a charming story that takes the everyday event of a baby crying and turns it into a tale that many will resonate with . Exploiting her personal passion for music, the author has shown that there is music in anything, it can come from anywhere and can creates harmony, and not just the musical kind. Guiseppe Poli’s little vignettes capture the lives of the people in the apartments, emphasising their separation whilst providing little clues for what is about to happen, and the things they share like the teacher who teaches drama and the teen creating movies; the girls and the older lady both enjoying knitting that suggest this baby is going to be the catalyst for some enduring connections. Even the front and back endpapers suggest that there will be a remarkable journey taking place between them.
On the surface this appears to be just a book for our very young readers whereas it has a place for older readers too, especially if it is shared by a teacher with a purpose. There is the theme of isolation even though the people live so close together and the theme of friendship through common interests that can be explored, while there is also the fun of making a body band – using the parts of the body to make a sound and a rhythm that can be melded together and then the exploration and combination of the sounds of ordinary objects.
Diane Jackson Hill started writing children’s books including the wonderful Annabel’s Dance after a long career in teaching, and her understanding of what children want in a story is very clear. This should become a family favourite as who can sit still when all around music is being made.