Boy, by Phil Cummings & Shane Devries

Boy couldn’t hear the battle cries, but he had seen the fear in his mother’s eyes and felt it in his father’s hands when he held him close.
The battles were loud and long…
but no-one ever won.

Boy lives in silence. Unable to hear, he talks with his hands, though only his parents take the time to understand him. In spite of this, boy is happy. Unfortunately, the rest of the villagers are not. They live near a forest where a fearsome dragon and fierce king have been battling. Every body is in danger, but nobody know why. It takes the wisdom – and peace – of Boy to solve the problem.

Boy is a heartwarming picture book about an unlikely hero who proves his bravery and wisdom. Boy is deaf, and it is this difference which sees him not only have a different view of the world, but also inadvertently put himself in danger. However, instead of running, he tackles the two fighting sides, and finds a way to ask them why they are fighting. The message, of peace and communication, is not over stated, it just is.

Illustrations, rendered digitally with a feel of watercolour, particularly in the landscapes feature expressive human characters, and a whimsical purple dragon. with lots of humorous touches and a pastel colour pallete, with lots of sepia tones, lending a medieval feel.


Boy , by Phil Cummings and SHane Devries
Scholastic Press, 2017
ISBN 9781760277055

Ride, Ricardo, Ride! by Phil Cummings & Shane Devries

Ricardo laughed.
The breeze brushed his face
and the air smelled of wildflowers.
Ricardo rode every day …
Until the shadows came.

When his father gives him a bike, Ricardo loves to ride it, hearing his father say ‘Ride, Ricardo, ride.”. But, when the shadows come, his father tells him they must hide the bike so it is not taken away. Together, father and son dismantle the bike and hide it away. In the dark times that follow, Ricardo loses his father to the shadows, and there are many hardships. But, when at last the shadows go away, he finds his bike, rebuilds it just as his father would have done, and rides once more, hearing the echo of his father’s voice encouraging him to ride.

Ride, Ricardo, Ride! is a moving tale of wartime hardships and survival, as well as of love between father and child. Set in an unnamed village impacted first by the arrival of soldiers, who appear only as shadows and then by the destruction of war.

A highlight of this very moving offering is the way that both text and illustrations explore the impact of war without using the images or words so often encountered in such stories, with the result of drawing the reader in to the impacts of what is happening, rather than focussing on the violence itself. The digital illustrations have a rich depth with smaller, ink-style illustrations in many of the text-boxes adding to the historical feel of the book.

This is a rich, moving feast of a book.

Ride, Ricardo, Ride!, by Phil Cummings & Shane Devries
Omnibus, 2015
ISBN 9781742990736

Available from good bookstores and online.