‘Dad plans a pond in the backyard and speaks of all the wonderful things that it will hold. But it is a promise left unfulfilled. When Dad dies, the uncompleted pond becomes a large part of the family’s grieving. […] Davies avoids sentimentality and pity in expressing the young narrator’s raw and painful emotions, as the survivors experience all the stages of grief, separately and together. Fisher’s dark-toned illustrations place the family deeply in shadow, encased in their pain. Only the pond has a degree of light, growing a bit stronger as time passes. The family emerges from the shadows emotionally, and finally, the image is bathed in misty light as they leave. Dad is white, and Mum appears to be Asian. Heart-wrenching, powerful, and beautifully realized.’ – Kirkus Reviews, 15 August 2017 edition
‘A magical story about love and loss, and how opening our eyes to the wonders of the natural world can help to bring us together and heal the most broken of hearts.’ – Gill Lewis, Children’s Author
‘This book pulls at the heart, delights the eye. The pond itself glows like a jewel, Nicola Davies writes with a poetic beauty and Cathy Fisher shows a wonderful understanding of working text and pictures together to tell a tale.’ – Jackie Morris, Author and Illustrator
‘Thoughtful and perceptive, this really gives a positive message.’ Parents in Touch
‘A beautiful heart-breaking examination of family bereavement. […] Fisher’s vivid mixed-media images, evoking the contrasts between black-brown mud, turquoise water and wriggling tadpoles, prompt both deep sadness and a sense of hope.’ – Imogen Russell Williams, Children’s Books Critic at The Guardian
‘Nicola Davies’ tale is heartbreaking and unafraid of tackling the real pain involved in losing someone you love, but it strikes an ultimately hopeful tone. Complemented by Cathy Fisher’s astonishingly evocative, swirling and exquisite illustrations, The Pond is a raw and emotional read but an important one, using nature to symbolise the circle of life in a thoughtful, considered and beautiful way.’ BookTrust
‘How to deal with death and grief? This is the theme of Nicola Davies’ latest book. There is nothing mawkish or sentimental. The young narrator does not hide the anger that grief can bring, both in young and old. The death of the father leaves a terrible hole in the family, symbolised by the muddy messy hole in the garden where the pond should have been. Then a duck arrives – the turning of the world and the seasons, the life to be found as the pond is resurrected allows the family to move on with their good memories; the pond had been their father’s idea.
While the link between life, death and the natural world is a common theme, there is freshness brought to it by Davies’ prose. It is a simple story, told clearly and elegantly. Enriching and adding both visual and emotional depth to a familiar story are Cathy Fisher’s illustrations. Filling each double page spread with rich, saturated colours she captures both the uncompromising desolation of the uncared for hole in the garden, the teeming life of the pond, the excitement of the discoveries to be made – and the perfection of the water lily flower. It too will die – but by then a new pond will have been created. This is a beautiful book in more senses than one and deserves to have a prominent place on any bookshelf.’ Ferelith Hordon, Books for Keeps