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The Climbers

The Climbers

Ali Standish
Stripes Publishing
ISBN: 9781788950381

Alma loves the forest that surrounds her village. She longs to explore further into its leafy canopy and dense jungle. However, her stern uncle's wish is that she stays within the boundary of the village and so Alma must obey. The mayor and teachers constantly warn about the dangers of the forest and the fearsome beasts that lived there. But when Alma looks into its depths, she sees only bright colours and hears the beautiful songs of birds. Strangely, nobody else seems to see this

One evening, Alma can no longer calm her curiosity and she heads into the forest to explore. The sights, sounds and smells that greet her are more incredible than she could have imagined. She feels welcome in the forest and when she ventures deeper, discovers an abandoned bear cub. Knowing he will be easy pray for the hunters, Alma takes the cub home with her, back to the village.

Alma manages to keep the bear cub hidden for some time, safely sheltered in her uncles shed. The bear sleeps during the day, and in the evening, Alma and her bear explore the forest together. However, it isn't long before the bear is discovered. The villagers are fearful and their prejudice prevents them from seeing how gentle the bear has become. Knowing that her bear will never be welcome and seeing the people's lack of respect for the forest, Alma and her bear escape into the forest together, seeking a place where they will both be welcomed.

First they travel through the forest and then high into the mountains. They meet Tully and Comet his tiger. Finally, they have found friends just like they are! Tully has had similar experiences to Alma and they continue their journey together, looking for somewhere they can call home. The companions travel far, across rivers and prairies to polluted cities and more dense jungles but still they cannot find a place where they feel welcome. When all hope seems lost, Alma remembers her desire to see further into the leafy canopy of her jungle at home and so she climbs upwards. Miraculously, here is where they find refuge. There are no walls, or mountains or rivers to separate them from a warm welcome, a place that they can call home, somewhere they can truly belong.

Ali Standish has created a gentle, thought-provoking, allegorical story of friendship and acceptance. Behind her simple story of a search for home we see broader, real world issues about the destruction of natural habitats, the harmful effect of prejudices and find ourselves reflecting on how we accept differences and treat other people.

This story is part of the Stripes Colour Fiction Range and is filled with beautiful colour illustrations by Alette Straathof. On each page, bold colour and detailed artwork reflect the character of the story and its characters' journeys. Alette's hidden details and clever ability to reflect emotion make this a story to be enjoyed again and again on a variety of levels. Another wonderful edition to the Stripes Colour Fiction range for emerging independent readers!

96 pages / Ages 6-8 years / Reviewed by Emily Beale, librarian


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