Stanley's Stick

Stanley's Stick
John Hegley and Neal Layton
Reviewed by Andy Murray
Thu, 02/06/2011

Surely the first picturebook ever to feature Stockport train station, this is an unpretentious hymn to the power of imagination.

Stanley's Stick is a teaming-up of hefty talents—bespectacled beanpole poet John Hegley and Neal Layton, illustrator of the much-loved Emily Brown picturebooks. Between them they've conjured up something quite glorious.

Young Stanley's constant companion in his childhood games is a stick. Not the fanciest toy ever, perhaps, but to Stanley it's completely multi-purpose, doubling as anything from a fishing rod to a giant match. Then, on a family trip to the seaside, Stanley decides the time has come to set his faithful stick free.

Along the way there are marvellous flights of fancy, and a barrage of verbal puns. Hegley's lyrical prose captures the free-wheeling expressiveness of childhood, and Layton's deceptively simple illustrations are full of wit and character. Sweet, magical and thoroughly entertaining, this is Hegley and Layton's first collaboration, but hopefully not their last.   

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