(Ramzy Baroud is the editor and publisher of The Palestine Chronicle and author of several books, including the recent 'My Father Was a Freedom Fighter').
What struck me most reading George Polley’s books, Grandfather and the Raven and The Old Man and the Monkey are their ability to relocate the reader geographically without dislocating him culturally or intellectually. The place is maybe Japan but the moral of the stories are to be applied everywhere, and on everyone.
My children read both books and enjoyed them immensely. They appreciated the sense of adventure, readability and the uniqueness of the style. I appreciated their subtle moral messages. Indeed, the reader is left without a restricting set of values imposed by the author, but the ability to think and glean the messages of the stories using his or her moral contexts or cultural values. My younger daughter saw The Old Man and the Monkey as a clear anti-racism message. My older daughter argued it teaches kindness to animals and appreciation of everything around us, no matter how different or seemingly strange. I appreciated the fact that the books allowed them to think outside the carefully tailored, yet often simplistic messages imparted on them by the media regarding the ultimate right and wrong.
George Polley’s text is readable and enjoyable. No gimmicks and no stylistic fads. Seemingly classic in its approach to writing for younger readers, it is still very creative in the way it conveys the content and the overall moral of the stories.
Grandfather and the Raven leaves one wondering if indeed such stories have been carried from one generation to the next in Sapporo, Japan. The way the stories are told transmits the feeling of generational wisdom that is conveyed through ancient legends and fables of East Asia, the Middle East, Africa and beyond. George Polley expresses that astute sentiment so wonderfully through his prudent, careful but at times mischievous characters.
Even as an adult, I found myself very much involved in reading and attempting to interpret the stories. The conclusion of The Old Man and the Monkey had me pause and reflect for a while with a mix of feelings, partly sadness, but also appreciation of that often unspoken relationship between us and nature which keeps our world moving, often unnoticed.
George Polley’s beautiful style is a model of anti-sensationalism, a breath of fresh air at the age of intellectual profit-generation and mass production of ideas. It’s beautiful and sweet. It gets the reader to think, and often smile.
Thank you George.