Following a storm at sea, a shipwrecked boy forms an unlikely friendship with a creature named Hom – the last surviving member of his kind, who inhabits an otherwise deserted island. Their days are filled with carefree play and shared learning ... until a rescue ship lands ashore. Will the draw of home be strong enough for the boy to abandon his new life and best friend?
Willis isn’t afraid of tackling emotive issues in her stories, and the moral dilemma facing the boy at the end of
Hom is bound to spark questions about friendship, family and letting go. The emotional connection between Hom and the boy lies at the heart of the beautiful child-centred world that Willis has created, so it’s only right that children themselves decide if it’s a fitting end to the story.
In the meantime, they can marvel at the book’s vibrant spreads, bursting with tropical greens, dramatic blues and pinky- red hues. Donnelly captures the shifting energy of the sea wonderfully, and the non-verbal exchanges between the two friends are a particular delight, with visual cues, facial expressions and skilful nuances helping to shape the story. It’s definitely a story that operates on multiple levels: little ones will enjoy it as a colourful castaway adventure, but there are plenty of bigger discussions to be had with older children around the preservation of important species and the power of friendship and emotions.