Beyond the Fence

Publisher: Child’s Play

Thomas, Piggy’s friend, always seems to know what’s best for Piggy, whether that’s dressing him up in frilly clothes, making him watch puppet shows or making him stay behind the fence that surrounds their house. But when Piggy meets a wild pig outside the house, he realises that there might be another way to be himself – a free pig without human clothes, and without having to do what Thomas wants all the time.

Maria Gulematova’s atmospheric illustration, in this quiet but powerful book about freedom and restriction, is incredibly effective in establishing a the ominous, repressive nature of Piggy and Thomas’ relationship, and Piggy’s eventual joy when he casts off his restrictive clothes.

Piggy’s posture speaks volumes on every page, showing his sadness and sense of being resigned to an unnatural fate; Thomas is, by contrast, heedless of the effects of his demands on his friend.

It’s a perfect book to provoke discussion in primary school aged children about toxic friendships, being a good friend and making the right choices for us. It’s also a very beautiful book which expertly draws characters and their emotions alongside a minimal but nuanced and meaningful text.

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