Today, it’s my turn on the blog tour for a deeply lovely book that’s not easy to write about! The lazy way to describe Together would be ‘This year’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse‘ for the combination of pictures and words with an ultimately inspirational message has a sort of similar resonance, and the format is in similar hardback style with the coloured spine and lovely thick paper pages (although Together is a little bigger).
BUT, the style of Together is totally different.
Above is the first double page spread. We meet an old man and his dog, who, over the next few pages go out and about in the big city. The busy-ness of the city is evident from the start, and the old man and his dog patiently make their way through it to get to where they need to be, no-one talks to each other.
Then a ‘storm’ appears on the horizon. People begin to worry about it and go out less, then it arrives and they stay at home. Not going out becomes the new normal.
The old man his dog may be physically alone, but they can communicate by other means, they can try new things and they go out for walks and rediscover nature. The sun is lurking somewhere.
They can still hope too, and the book ends with the storm going and the old man being reunited with his family.
Of course, it is all about the pandemic and lockdown, but you’ve got that, I’m sure.
Hawker’s wonderfully detailed pen and ink drawings capture the essence of what we’ve been living through over the past year and a bit perfectly, all seen on an individual level. There is comment in the pictures though – one spread contrasts a bulk-buyer with overloaded trolley with a homeless person the old man buys a sandwich for. He graphically salutes the heroes of the NHS with a wall full of people standing in their balconies to applaud them. The drawings also address loneliness, and then the myriad of ways that people start to come together without physical closeness.
Hawker’s dog is so full of life. He’s a bit shaggy and he’s no young pup, he’s always at his master’s side, their companionship is manifest. You can tell that the artist is a dog-lover. As for the old man–well, he’s modelled on Hawker’s grandfather, and comes across as a gentle soul.
There is so much detail in the drawings, I keep spotting new things in some of them. The words, added by Marianne Laidlaw to guide us through Hawker’s art, are heartfelt, inspirational, aspirational, and definitely a bit cheesy (in a good way), complementing the drawings beautifully.
This is a book to savour and pore over, to ponder and be inspired by. As a brief artistic overview of the strange times we’ve all experienced, and I really do hope we’re on that path out, it’s a thought-provoking and beautifully produced souvenir.
Source: Review copy – thank you! Published by Kyle Books (Octopus), hardback, 64 pages.
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