Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Slog’s Dad

Author: David Almond and Dave McKean (illustrator)

Do you believe there’s life after death? Slog does. He reckons that the scruffy bloke sitting outside the pork shop is his dad come back to visit him for one last time- just like he’d said he would, just before he died. Slog’s mate Davie isn’t convinced. But how does this man know everything Slog’s dad would know? Because Slog says it really is his dad, that’s how.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Visually it is superb, the style very similar to ‘The Savage’, another Almond and McKean collaboration and I book that I adored. I love that some pictures look almost photographic until you look at the faces. I love the mainly green undertones that make the other colours stand out all the more. For once I also like that the pictures stand alone, with the story they tell told in an almost storyboard fashion. It is through these pictures that you see Slog’s pain at the death of his Dad, his hopes and dreams that one day he will return. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that the actual story is told by Davie, Slog’s best friend. The story told in words, is slightly more detached, it’s the pictures that give you an emotional context to the book.

It’s the story I have mixed feelings about. I think I understand the intention, but I found certain element quite creepy. This man looks nothing like Slog’s Dad and parts of Davie’s story seem to imply he is just indeed a random man. I think that the intention is just to show how someone can do something nice for a grieving small boy. That they can give them the comfort of knowing that there is something better out there. But I found the notion that someone could pretend in that way quite disturbing. This is a book set around 50 years ago however so maybe I placing my own more modern conception of mistrust unfairly in this case.

This shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is a very moving story that speaks very eloquently of love and loss.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: September 2010
Format: Hardback
Pages: 64
Genre: Graphic Novel, Death
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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