Voices in the Park is an award winning children's book, written and illustrated by Anthony Browne.
Four people go to the park, their lives intertwine and then they go home - this is the story of what happened on that trip to the park, the people and how they affected each other's lives.
Winner of the Kurt Maschler Award, 1998, Voices in the Park is a triumph of writing and illustration by Anthony Browne. In short this is the story of a trip to the park as told by the four individuals who happen to be there at the same time. The narration is divided into four ‘voices’ as each character tells their part of the story. Written in the first person each character adds a new perspective to those preceding it. This turns a normal story of people going to the park into an orchestral narrative with each voice providing a distinctive tone and pitch to the overall story. The concept may be unusual in children’s literature which on the whole is dominated by ‘beginning-middle-end’ structures and it’s a credit to the book and author that the interwoven story elements blend so seamlessly together. Browne’s illustrations provide the core to this book and will be as important to a child reader as the text.
Anyone familiar with Browne’s work will not be surprised to see the return of anthropomorphised gorillas which feature prominently in many of Browne’s books. All four characters appear in every section of the book in one way or another - sometimes interacting with the current narrator, sometimes just in the background of the picture. Colour and light are put to good use to provide depth and draw the reader in, look out for hat shaped trees mirroring the imposing shadow of an over protective mother or the perspective used to show a child at the top of a slide. Browne’s observations expressed through this book are wonderfully accurate; dogs chase each other, children talk and play and the adults sit awkwardly at opposite ends of the park bench. These are all elements children can engage with and relate to.
Overall this is a fantastic, thought provoking story that successfully incorporates a relatively complex narrative with easily accessible language, imaginative illustrations and an exquisite quality that makes you wonder about the lives you have just glimpsed. While I would be quite happy to recommend this book to anyone, adult or child, I believe it is best suited for children aged 5-7 who can appreciate both the illustration and text elements that make this such a charming read.
Voices in The Park is written by Anthony Browne, a man so talented he both writes and illustrates his own books! It tells the story of Charles and Smudge, two young monkeys who happen to meet when they visit the park with their parents. However, such a normal activity is not viewed the same by everyone, after all, there is never just one voice in the park. With amazing art work and a super story, this is a book not to be missed!
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- Reading Age: 7+
- Reading Aloud Age: 5+
If you like this you might like
- Other books written by Anthony Brown, e.g.
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
- Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake.