The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant


 Excellent book in three parts.

Two parts in third person but written (you find out later) by an Afghani boy called Omar. The third part is in first person some years later and is narrated by the Australian friend of Omar, Hector (or Hec).

There are lots of bridges between parents, siblings, strangers, enemies, lovers and friends. And even one big imposing bridge, the West Gate Bridge, over the Yarra which shadows Hector’s life and leaves his mute for the year he first meets Omar.

Not as hard to read as you would think for such a large book on such a harrowing story (war and refugees).

Bridges are a big deal in this story. There’s a wonderful illustration of living bridges, where Indian peasants use fig vines, trained over years to created bridges over rivers that never get washed away. You can see the relationships in this story are like those living bridges, events building and training the relationship to make it strong enough to survive every obstacle.

If you wanted to present this story I was thinking a book talk where one person is mute (both Omar and Hec are mute for much of the story) and another asks questions and decipher the gestures of the other to tell the story. A chalk board (an important prop in the story) could be used for important phrases.

If you wanted an activity getting the kids to play Taboo or even charades might me a good solution.

Omar does make a harrowing trip from Afghanistan to Australia, laid out on a map with the different forms of transport his takes along the way might me a useful illustration.

If you needed something more physical (I’m thinking of boys here) making plastic straw bridges may be a good exercise.



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