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Right Answer The (Stories of Welsh Life)

Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • Author: Siân Lewis
  • Publication Date 2006
  • Illustrated by James Field 
  • Suitable for age 9-11 or Key Stage 2 
  • Format: Hardback, 207x140 mm, 29 pages
 
A story and picture book aimed at children aged 9-11 years old. The series deals with many periods in Welsh history, and bases a story on a particular field. This volume's background is the migration to Patagonia.

Gwales Review

With the Stories of Welsh Life Series, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch has taken a fresh approach to Welsh history tales for children aged between 8 and 12. Having self-explanatory titles and being written from the point of view of the young main character, the reader is immediately engaged in key events and their effect on ordinary people of the time. Narratives by accomplished author Siân Lewis are presented in neat, well-bound books with text alternating with colour plates which set the context and provide a wealth of visual detail to explore. Teachers will welcome an addition to Curriculum Cymreig resources; youngsters in Wales will welcome attractive and readable books which enable them to travel through time and appreciate what it was like to witness and be part of historical happenings whilst youngsters everywhere will empathize with the hero or heroine and enjoy the excitement and tension.

The inspiring words of Edwin Cynrig Roberts resulted in more than a hundred and sixty Welsh people making the perilous journey in the Mimosa in 1865 to found a new Wales in Patagonia – the ‘right answer’ to the problems of poverty and oppression at home. Jane, Griff and their parents swap ‘a grey house in a grey street with a narrow strip of sky overhead’ for the open pampas country given by the government of Argentina; however, the settlers need all their idealism and hope to face the reality of grinding work and hunger in a hostile environment before it can become the green and pleasant land they were promised.

Unfortunately, James Fields’s illustrations are not entirely successful here. He handles light and colour deftly to create mood and set the scene; certainly his depiction of grim industrial valleys Wales works well, as does the claustrophobic ship’s hold picture. Both the open Patagonian landscapes and useful illustrated map of the voyage place the narrative effectively. Particular attention seems to have been paid to how settlers and Indians are dressed, but the portraits of the family and in particular those of the children are disappointing, being marred by the rigid facial features.

Siân Lewis breathes life into the bare bones of the story by involving the reader through the characters, experiences and perspectives of Jane and Griff, by concentrating on the human interest aspects. In the hold of the Mimosa we are mesmerised like them by shoemaker Dafydd Williams and his vision of a green and beautiful heaven on earth ‘where even the rivers will sing out in Welsh’; we are disappointed like them by the cold, biting rain of a winter July on a coast without shelter, and the ‘miles and miles of dusty desert sprinkled with thorn bushes’ when they come ashore. And although we appreciate the anxiety of Jane and her parents when Griff disappears in search of Dafydd, we understand why he follows his hero’s trail to seek more fertile land on the banks of the Camwy.

Spirited Jane’s horseback journey to find her brother is fraught with fear and uncertainty and hard truths must be faced before the conclusion. Read on to discover whether Patagonia was the right answer after all.