“This mood swept over him in a raging storm and stuck”.
If you were to listen to Louise Greig’s words without looking at Julia Sarda’s illustrations, you would hear a simple description of a boy (Ed) struggling with a very bad mood. It is in the pictures that we see Ed’s challenging emotions represented as leaves. We witness his journey from when the first leaf hits him in the face and causes him to trip over his broom (the bad mood has begun) through his furiously determined sweep through the town, gathering up not only leaves but anything and anyone unfortunate enough to be in his path. Soon Ed is the victim of the blackest of all bad moods (represented as a pile of leaves so enormous that it has engulfed the whole town) – Ed feels bleak, hopeless and out of control. Then, just as quickly as it appeared, Ed’s mood lightens as a wind whips up and blows away the leaves and chaos, clearing the air. It blows an unexpected gift to him – a kite – which leads him to look up and appreciate the beauty around him. The story closes with a helpful note of guidance – Ed knows he will inevitably experience more bad moods, but he has learned that he can choose how he reacts to them. Will he spiral down a path again with his broom in hand, allowing the storm to grow and take hold of him, or will he he accept the mood for what it is (a normal, transient emotion) and distract himself with something more pleasant?
‘Sweep’ is a perfect partnership between a skilled author and a highly talented illustrator – both equally important and both bringing unique insight to the story and its themes. The words are simple and well pitched for children, and the town landscapes full of tiny details (and many, many leaves!) are simply stunning.