Last year, Matt Hunt published his first picture book with Scholastic. Almost a year on and he’s a nominee for a Kate Greenaway Medal. What a way to begin the new year!
The story itself is a perfect antidote to New Year blues . . .
With it being a grey and rainy January, it’s very easy to see how Lion feels as he waits for his bus in the rain, somewhere in the city. Just like any of us can feel in all the hustle and bustle, it all gets too much for Lion. So he acts upon his discontent, knowing exactly what is needed, and moves to a desert island — of course! That would be the perfect solution, wouldn’t it? But whilst Lion yearns for quiet solitude, he forgets how important friends are. There is a wonderful message in this picture book: Lion has a vision of exactly what he needs/wants and exactly how it will be, right down to the friends he is looking for.
But it doesn’t go to plan.
When Lion gets past the cool stage (eventually), he realises that his new found friends are brilliant (musicians), and accepts them with all their quirks and differences. So the message is clear — that life is for living, there’s no time for procrastination, or for being stuck somewhere you’re not happy, and even if things don’t go quite as you planned, it doesn’t equate to failure.
This book really does carry a message, and in fact it’s right on trend. In every health and lifestyle magazine going, you’ll find articles on breaking free from your current life/work constraints, taking that leap and following your heart. It truly works out for some, and even for Lion — in the end, despite his original mis-givings. It’s a lovely way of helping children realise that trying new things is okay — in fact it can be fun — a true adventure. You might move house, you may move abroad, and the idea of change can be daunting, but you’ll be okay and make new friends.
My only question is how does Lion fund his island paradise lifestyle?!
But that’s the wonder of children’s books — where anything is possible.
You can find out more about Matt and the making of Message in a Bottle here.