King of the Sky

Publisher: Walker Books

Review

A little boy has come to start his life in a new country (which could be Wales) where nothing is familiar, apart from the racing pigeons kept by his neighbour: an old man called Mr Evans.

One day, Mr Evans hands the boy one of the pigeons and says it’s his: the boy names it Re Del Cielo, King of the Sky.

Mr Evans and the boy enter King of the Sky into a race – it will go by train to Italy, where the boy is from, and fly home. Mr Evans says it has the wings for distance, but is he right? Perhaps the sunlight, the fountains and the smell of vanilla the boy misses so much will make the pigeon want to stay. Yet when the pigeon returns, the boy realises home can be more than one place.

Shortlisted for the Greenaway medal, in 2018, for illustration in a picture book, this touching, quiet tale about a boy who is a long way from home is full of the atmosphere of a dusty, rainy ex-coal-mining town, lit with accents of yellow hope. Davies considers the strangeness of new places, especially their smells, and the simple acts that can make us feel part of a new community.

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