What does it feel like to come to a new country where you know nothing of the culture or the language? Cartwheel, a young girl in a war-torn African country, moves to another country to be safe. Her new country is strange and everything is different from what she knows. Most telling, she and her aunt are separated from people by the language.
“When I went out, it was like standing under a strange waterfall of sounds.
The waterfall was cold. It made me feel alone. I felt like I wasn’t me anymore.”
In this spread, Cartwheel and her auntie are at the center of a divided path of people who are all ignoring them. The surrounding people are white, dressed in modern clothing of cool colours, while Cartwheel and Auntie are the only ones with dark skin and are dressed in traditional garments of warm colours. The words that come out of people’s mouths are illustrated as sharp-edged shapes that appear to to be aimed at the girl. Cartwheel thinks of her old language as a warm blanket, one that she can wrap around herself, reminding her of home and of herself. One day, she meets a new girl at the park. Without language, the girls still build a friendship of shared play. The other girl begins to share words with Cartwheel, encouraging her to practice them, and so Cartwheel begins to build a new blanket of language. Blackwood’s watercolour and oil illustrations enhance the separation Cartwheel feels, as all the spreads of the new world are in cool colours, while Cartwheel and her old blanket of language are in warm oranges and reds. Not until the final spread does Blackwood mesh the two worlds together, framing Kobald’s expressive text to bring a message of hope to new immigrants.
A must-have for all library collections!