Pilgrimis the name of a boat, built by the narrator’s great-grandfather. The narrator, a small boy, tells the reader about his first journey to sea. He and his father rise early and make their preparations for this father and son fishing trip. They pass familiar landmarks seen for the first time from the water. The boat leaves the river or cove and they are at sea. The boy relaxes, safe in his great-grandfather’s boat with his father. Now he can enjoy the sea, feeling ‘brave and peaceful.’
Pilgrim, on the surface, is a story about a small boy overcoming his fear and going to sea with his father. His initial nervousness is transformed as he watches dolphins. This will suffice for most small readers/listeners. But there is more here for the older reader. The reference to the builder of the boat as a returned soldier is expanded upon as they journey past landmarks with the name of well-known war battles. The illustrations in Pilgrim are strong hand-coloured lino cuts. Each image is framed by white and occupies a page or opening. There are also smaller lino cut images showing other images, a feather, war medals and a soldier’s hat. Perhaps the suggestion is that all journeys, no matter how small, require courage and the support of those around us. And some, like the great-grandfather of this story, also make it safely home. Recommended for 5-8 year olds, although it may also be used for older children in classroom discussions around war.
Pilgrim, by Jo Oliver
New Frontier Publishing 2008