Welcome to day three of our reading challenge. Today’s book is the first of our titles that was written in English but is set somewhere very different to our own setting here in the Midlands. Today’s book is The Field by Baptiste Paul with pictures by Jacqueline Alcántara (NorthSouth Books).
Dominic: It’s got a few words in English and a few words in another language (Creole). They can still play football even though they are miles away from us. I like this book because it is about football.
Emma: I like the girl playing football in a skirt and wellies. The cows keep coming to eat the grass.
The story line is a situation familiar to many of us: a group of kids out playing football. They clear the pitch, split into teams and keep on playing despite the rain until finally, one team scores. The kids are called in by their mammas, climb in the bath and go off to bed. It could have been Dominic out playing football with his friends, except the kids are black and the backdrop is Saint Lucia. On thing I particularly love about this book is that Paul embraces equality in a game that is often male-dominated: it is a girl who instigates the football game.
The zingy English text, which becomes part of the pictures, is interspersed with words in Creole, giving the book an extra spice and sense of the exotic. Dominic enjoyed looking at the back page where there is a section on Creole words and phrases with an brief explanation about growing up in Saint Lucia and the language. We then had to get the globe out and look at where Saint Lucia is.
I shared this and some other books with a friend from Zimbabwe and her four-year-old son. As a football lover, he requested this one first and as they went through it together, he pointed at the figures saying “that’s me”, “that’s daddy”. She commented how great it was for her son to be able to identify with the characters, as they rarely came across black protagonists in British children’s books. Looking through my own shelves, it is shamefully clear how right she is. For anyone wishing to address this imbalance, this book is a great addition!