Hats off to author, Dimity Powell! In her new picture book, AT THE END OF HOLYROOD LANE, Dimity tackles the subject of domestic violence, physical, mentally or emotionally, with sensitivity and skill. Nicky Johnstone’s beautiful illustrations shine throughout as well.
It’s no easy subject to broach in a children’s book, but in the hands of an aware, wise adult reading aloud to a young child, it could be a tool for discussion, or even just an opener to allow children to ask for help; to let the vulnerable know they are not alone.
Flick is just like any other youngster. She loves to chase butterflies and tussle autumn leaves but life at the end of Holyrood Lane is often violent and unpredictable due to the constant storms that plague her home causing her to cringe with dread and flee whenever they strike. Flick tries her best to quell and endure the storms’ persistent wrath until one day, with nowhere left to hide Flick summons the courage to face her fears by asking for help to overcome them.
It’s an area of personal experience … not in my family, but as a teacher of 5-9 years olds in a Brisbane school in the 1980s. A small boy of itinerant parents (let’s call him Peter) … beautiful face, sad eyes, lacking social skills, struggling to learn to read, I sensed something was wrong within a week of him coming into my class. But I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Then one day he wore a long shirt on a hot day. I rolled up his sweaty sleeves and I saw them … dark round blotches, weeping burn marks. Cigarette burns into tender skin. He saw my reaction and quickly covered them again.
In those days, there was no help and guidance for teachers … that came later. I told my superiors, and the principal tried to ring. Then he sent a letter.
Within a few days, little Peter disappeared from our school and the house he lived in. The family packed up and moved somewhere else, into another life, another school.
Thirty-four years later, I think of that wee boy. Where is he now? Did he survive? Did he too become like the person/s who abused him? Was domestic violence part of his everyday?
I’ve been wary of ‘self-help’ books for years … but this is not one of those. Thank you, Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnstone for tackling this subject, and for creating this beautiful book.
Author Dimity Powell. Illustrations Nicky Johnson Publisher Exisle Kids Publishing – NZ ISBN 9781925335767 Website https://exislepublishing.com Distributor EK Books/Exile Publishing Released Septmber 2018