On Sudden Hill by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies

Published by Simon and Schuster (ISBN: 978-1471145063)

Having a box each is enough for Big friends, Birt and Etho. They take them to Sudden Hill where they play all manner of different games. Birt loves their ‘two-by-two’ rhythm. One day, a new boy arrives- and things change.

A wonderful story about friendship, learning to share and accepting others, On Sudden Hill should be found in every school. The author describes the relationship between the two boys at the start of the book perfectly and the illustrations capture it beautifully. This section alone could form the basis of much classroom work- what else could your box be? Junk modelling, imaginative play, discussions about what makes them Big friends and why they are so comfortable with each other!

The story moves on as a new boy finds a big enough box and the courage to ask if he can join them. Although Etho is happy to agree, Birt finds sharing his new friend uncomfortable and there is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and jealously portrayed through both text and illustration. His longing for a return to how things were is conveyed so simply, yet so beautifully that children will be able to relate to these feelings and, through Birt’s experiences, discuss and validate their own. 

As well as providing a way to explore these complicated emotions, this book offers many possibilities in other areas of the curriculum. Above all, it is a beautiful read – a must have!