Written by Alys Jackson and Illustrated by Shane McGrath (Big Sky Publishing) 2019, pp32, RRP $14.99
In Alys Jackson’s debut children’s picture book, The Land Belongs To Me, there is trouble afoot on the farm. The beetle declares that, from the daisy to the tree, the land belongs to her. But the raven, farm cat and dog disagree. Then the farmer steps in claiming the land for himself, until the queen and then the pirate claim it for their own. The pirate takes aim with his canons and takes the land by force, destroying everything in his path. It takes a simple worm to say, “Have they gone mad? What a silly uproar. What a lot of fuss. Don’t they understand that land belongs to all of us?” and show them all the truth: that the land belongs to each and every one of them, and that ‘Every single blade of grass is shared by you and me’.
Jackson uses simple but enchanting rhyming language and repetition to tell the story of how greed destroys, but sharing the land can result in peace and abundance for all. It is a timely message, and one that rings true in these times of climate change and the impact of global greed and denial.
Shane McGrath’s illustrations are playful and lively, with details that allow the reader to explore the pages over and over again. That cheeky beetle is on every spread and little readers will have fun scanning each page for the beetle’s appearance. The final page, showing all the inhabitants of the land enjoying a distant sunset together, is a delight.
The Land Belongs To Me shows that we are all connected in our communities, but also in our relationship to the land and its animals. It’s a playful story that breathes new life into the farmyard tale trope and is sure to be enjoyed by children and their parents alike!
This title is available through Big Sky Publishing. Click HERE to purchase your copy.
Click HERE to watch a video about The Land Belongs To Me