Change, as the saying goes, is inevitable. As adults, we know that life is full of change; some of them small and easy, others huge and difficult. For most children changes big or small can be scary and hard to cope with. One of the most important things adults can do for children is to help them deal with change in a positive way and Through the Gate is a book that helps to do just that.
The big change that has occurred in Through the Gate is one that would seem exciting to a grown up ‘New town, new school’ however it is clear that, for the girl standing forlornly at the gate, it is anything but. She stares at her ‘new’ house which is drooping, peeling and crumbling and is not happy. Off she plods to school, glaring at her shoelaces.
As time goes on, each day she comes home and stands at the gate, and stares at her house she wonders if something is different; and even if the girl can’t quite put her finger on them, there are small details in the illustrations for the reader to notice. Her travels to school evolve and become more interesting – moving from plodding to wandering, and then more purposefully marching as she picks some flowers, meets a puppy and makes a friend.
The beauty of this tale is the simplicity and gentle message of the text, a message that is delivered with great skill and subtlety. A repeated sequence suggests holding a steady course as time passes, and with time and acceptance, the unfamiliar becomes familiar.
Illustrated by the author, the scenes are mostly black and white – this too conveys the mood on the girl; she is the only spot of colour in a grey, black and white world. Even the end papers reflect the girl’s journey to coming to embrace her new life. As her interest and ease with her new situation develops, so too does the colour in the scenes; from a grey start we end in a full colour picture of a house now become a loved home.
A very cleverly handled and beautifully illustrated story, Through the Gate will be a great way to ease children’s uncertainty and unease over changes happening in their lives. It is a message of hope and encouragement showing that with patience and time, changes may not be so bad and positive things can come from new situations.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
Through the Gate
by Sally Fawcett
EK Books, 2017