Benji Davies produces picture books in the ‘timeless classic’ mould: luscious productions like the Storm Whale series, that already feel like big budget adaptations of something you’ve known and loved for years.
In the Snowflake we follow two converging narratives: a young girl, Noelle, dreaming of snow at Christmas and a solitary snowflake, born from a cloud and tumbling to earth.
Readers of this blog might remember a similar sounding prose story by Paul Gallico, the less definitively titled Snowflake. But where that story was a meditation on existence and suffering, Benji Davies opts for something a little more grounded and hopeful.
The snowflake eventually finds her way to Noelle’s every town, a place that will be familiar to any British child in 2020 – and likely readers throughout the world. This is a contemporary setting of concrete high-rises and sodium lit ring roads, urban but not too gritty.
Also true to this strange, distanced year, the town doesn’t feel overpopulated. It’s Christmastime and there are people on the streets, but not too many and not too close. The lights in the houses and flats hint at many lives being lived behind closed doors.
The sense of yearning for something just out of reach is palpable. Noelle wishes for the perfect white Christmas tree, just as we are wishing for a sign of hope in the future. Her grandfather is on hand to manage all our expectations: ‘Maybe next year.’
Thankfully in the gorgeous picture book world of Benji Davies, dreams do come true, particularly at Christmas
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