O’Farrell’s enchantingly whimsical text tells how Sylvie has unknowingly brought into being an endearingly human guardian angel, who will prove to be essential to her wellbeing. Visiting by night, the angel assures Sylvie that she has within her the potential to help her family and friends rediscover the joy in living that helps keep us all safe. It’s clear that Sylvie’s help is essential to the angel’s wellbeing, too. This gentle examination of the role that each of us plays in relation to each other is played out against a deeper concept of the seasons of the heart and our essential connectivity and responsibility to both social and environmental being-in-the-world. Below the surface runs a theme that myths and traditions may evaporate unless nurtured by an appropriate custodian – that we all have a part to play in keeping alive the circumstances and stories that make us who we are. It’s a thoughtful and accessible text that invites us to participate fully in our loving responsibilities towards each other and the world we live in.
Jaglenka Terrazini’s magisterial illustrations steal the show here, though, with the complexities of the relationship between angel and child captured sensitively and unsentimentally at every turn. The gloriously fragile beauty and splendour of the angel, its diffident troubledness and hesitancy executed in scintillating blues and greys, will evoke tenderness, strength and a deeply-felt sense of transience in readers of every age. This beauty should sweep the board as this year’s Christmas gift book.