About this book
The Playgrounds of Babel
JonArno Lawson • Piet Grobler
From the international best-selling author of Sidewalk Flowers and a world-renowned illustrator, this picture book is about the power of song, inspired by the story of the Tower of Babel.
This unusual, thought-provoking story begins with an old woman telling a tale to a group of children in a playground. One of the boys can’t understand what she is saying, so another offers to translate. The old woman’s tale is inspired by the Tower of Babel story: In the days when everyone spoke the same language, the people built a tower to reach God. But God was annoyed and sent a dragon to destroy the tower, then created new languages for everyone so that they couldn’t understand each other. Fortunately, two little girls find a way to communicate through song.
Told entirely through dialogue, moving back and forth between the old woman’s tale and the exchange between the two boys, this original, sometimes funny story raises questions about what divides us and what brings us together, in spite of all our differences — it is the power of song in this case, which ultimately brings hope.
Piet Grobler brings a masterful visual interpretation to this layered story, rendering the old woman and children in the playground in monochromatic tones and the characters in the old woman’s tale in a naïve style with vibrant color, complete with incomprehensible languages in hand-drawn speech balloons. An author’s note explains JonArno Lawson’s inspiration for the story.
Key Text Features
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
About the Creators
A four-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children’s Poetry, JonArno Lawson is the author of numerous books for children and adults. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.
Piet Grobler is South Africa's most celebrated illustrator for children. His work has been published around the world.