Illustrated by Jessica Knight
For ages 4+
Owlet Press… what’s your secret magic formula!?? Honestly and from my heart, I read an Owlet Press children’s book and I’m blown away every time. Publishing this month is global best-selling children’s author Ian Eagleton’s 4th picture story book (and the 3rd for Owlet Press). He shouldn’t need any introduction if you’re into Children’s books and you haven’t been off social media for the last couple of months. He has been relentless in his social media promotion for his fantastic debut middle grade ‘Glitter Boy’ (Scholastic) + with the fantastic news of his picture book with illustrator James Mayhew - ‘Nen and the Lonely Fisherman’ (Owlet Press) reaching the 10k sold mark. It’s big news in our world! A special welcome to those who have found my review today through the Owlet Press Blog Tour - so happy to see you here!
The Eagleton-Owlet partnership producing powerful, engaging and empowering storytelling for children is back!! Yay!!
About the book
‘Rory’s Room of Rectangles’, breathtakingly illustrated by Jessica Knight, publishes exactly 1 month before Father’s Day on 18th June, and for a very good reason. Taking art as a metaphor for life and art as a form or expression for emotions within the story, the author and illustrator are symbiotic in communicating Rory’s journey to readers. As the subtitle on the front cover reveals, this is “a story of blended families and big feelings”, and it delivers.
Rory, like many children, find Father’s Day isn’t a positive event for them. The story opens with a teacher talking to his class about creating a Father’s Day card in their lesson. You may think, hey, this seems like run-of-the-mill fun creative activity for young children to do at school, but actually what is often overlooked is that the family nucleus is so varied these days… perhaps this commercial day of commemoration to male gender parents isn’t representative enough of the now rare one-size-fits-all family unit of mum, dad and 2.4 children. This is where the story sensitively introduces awareness of how a child living within a blended family structure might feel confused and anxious about an event like Father’s Day.
Rory lives with his mum and her new boyfriend, Tony; his dad still very much involved in his life. He gets on well with Tony, and he loves his weekends with his dad too. Mention of Father’s Day by his school teacher throws Rory into despair. He’s completely flummoxed and has no idea what to do - does he have to choose between Tony and his dad? Who gets his card? The teacher has overlooked the fact that some children in his classroom may live in a blended family, or may not even have fathers at all. Rory creates a card filled with expressive artwork reflecting his state of mind and then, ashamed, tears it up and hides it away.
Father’s Day arrives and Rory spends it at home with mum and Tony. What about Dad? Children can feel so much guilt and concern for missing parents, well beyond their years. The emotional intelligence of children nowadays mustn’t be underestimated. Tony, thankfully, is incredibly sensitive and perceptive. He obviously really cares about Rory and very much cares about him being able to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with is biological dad. This is an incredibly responsible approach to take within the storytelling. Continuing the art theme, Tony and Rory head out to a favourite art gallery and when they find huge paintings of artwork that aren’t unlike the artwork on Rory’s secretly destroyed Father’s Day card, it's then that things start to take a wonderful and healing turn. Tony recognises and externally validates, and verbalises, Rory’s feelings and emotions through their discussion about the artwork. What’s more Tony has a wonderful surprise for Rory just outside… one that’s going to ensure that Father’s Day is a happy celebration for Rory for years to come, and will give readers heart-leaping joy.
I simply cannot wait to share this wonderful book with the children I work with in schools, with my wonderful online community, booksellers, and my own children at home. You need a copy of 'Rory's Room of Rectangles' on your bookshelves. Essential reading for children, whether they are living in a blended family or not.
About the creators
Ian Eagleton (author)
Ian was born in Essex. Having 13 years as primary school teacher, which has included being an English Coordinator, Phase Leader and member of Senior Management he is now a resource writer for The Literacy Shed and Authorfy as well as Director of The Reading Realm and creator of The Reading Realm app!
"Everybody deserves a happy ending, but too often those of us in the LGBT+ community have been excluded from seeing ourselves in children’s stories. It is vital that children see lots of different types of relationships, so that they can learn about acceptance, diversity and all the wonderful ways people can live and love!”
Jessica Knight (illustrator)
Jessica graduated from North Wales School of Art and Design in 2011 with an MA in Illustration for Children’s Publishing and has been working as a freelance illustrator since then. She has worked on a variety of projects with clients such as Usborne, Parragon Books and Tutti Frutti Productions. She creates her illustrations using a mix of media, combining traditional materials with digital skills. She currently lives in Devon, where she loves nothing more than going on adventures in the surrounding countryside with her sketchbook and a giant flask of tea.
Grab a copy
Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...
Publication date: 18 May 2023
Have you read the award-winning children's picture book 'Nen and the Lonely Fisherman' or 'The Woodcutter and The Snow Prince' also written by Ian Eagleton, published by Owlet Press?
*reviewed from an advance reading copy provided by the publisher
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