On a bench by a statue in a park, Owen can sit quietly, it’s a place where he can gather his thoughts. Sharing this bench with a tall grey figure, while eating his lunch, he can speak freely without being judged. Perhaps if life was less difficult for Owen and his mum, and perhaps if Owen was braver at speaking out, then he wouldn’t feel so nervous about explaining his struggles. However, it seems there is a familiar strength in this stone soldier that Owen has missed, so he chats to him and as a result, is very attached to the statue.
A teacher recognises Owen’s talent for writing and wants to use this as a vehicle for building his confidence at speaking out loud, but Owen declines the offer of help, just as his mother has previously declined all offers of help. Stepping back from people has kept Owen and his mom’s struggles hidden, but news emerge that the stone statue is being removed, Owen steps forward for the first time and speaks out.
Lisa Thompson writes with real heart and this pairing with Barrington Stoke is a boon for readers. The text is short and suitable for reluctant readers, but the story is deep in content. The emotion subtly builds and when Owen reads his poem in public for the first time, the tidal wave of his grief that has been alluded to, but hidden for the whole story, will take your breath away. An outstanding story about hiding grief and healing by remembrance.