The Yes: Sarah Bee & Satoshi Kitamura (Andersen Press, 2014)
The Yes is an important book. The Yes is a beautiful book. The Yes is a book that deserves to be talked about. The Yes is a book that works on many different levels.
But what is The Yes? In the story, the Yes is an odd orange creature; a three-legged, eyeless blob of oddness that catches your eye in its contrast to the background. The Yes is a concept, a non-real entity, an anthropomorphic personification.
The words are all so perfect and used so well I want to quote the whole book. When I read it I hear Neil Gaiman’s voice in my head, which suits it well.
They were so many and so very that you could see nothing but Nos. They made all the Here and all the Else a no-ness and a notness.
This is a picture book for grown-ups and children, and it can be read in a multitude of ways. It spoke to me about non-conformity, of not giving in to slings and arrows, of trusting your instincts and being yourself, of ignoring the herd.
This is an excellent book to talk about. The use of words (snicked, lumpen, bumbled, scrumbling) could inspire children to make up their stories or poems. It might be interesting to read this alongside Jabberwocky with older children.
I think The Yes would be best used with KS1 (5-7) and KS2 (7-11) children and probably the most effective with KS2. It can be read as a story on its own too but there is so much more in this book to discover.
Mighty Girl (7) took to it instantly, asking questions and talking about the plot. She wants to take it into school and share as she loved it so much. Danger Girl (4) took a few reads to warm to it, and I wonder whether it is not as accessible for younger children or whether it’s just DG.
I would classify The Yes in a similar way to Shaun Tan, although it’s more accessible for me (I don’t quite understand Shaun Tan’s work even though I find it beautiful.) Picture books like this work on many levels and can be enjoyed by anyone from any background.
I can’t recommend this highly enough. Buy or borrow The Yes as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.
Disclosure: received for review from Andersen Press.