Award-winning author David Almold’s evocative and expressive new picture book, The Dam, tells the story of a father and daughter’s last visit to their valley community before the arrival of the newly constructed dam’s rising waters. The duo brings forth twirling, ghostly images from the past—supplied by Levi Pinfold—as they play violin and sing in each abandoned house. As remembered souls and memories drift away, the pair leaves the houses ringing with song.
Almond sets the mood with short, almost curt sentences, creating austere poetry rife with repetition. He doesn’t linger on descriptions, instead allowing the illustrations and the reader’s imagination to flesh out the story.
Pinfold poignantly illustrates this true story of England’s Kielder Dam valley and creates his own visual opus with broad, sweeping hills and hovering fog—rendered in muted colors—that foreshadow the coming loss. With incredible detail, Pinfold also gives young readers an intimate portrayal of the various creatures that made their homes in the valley with his sepia-toned portraits.
Perhaps the most extraordinarily lovely and melancholy picture book published this year, The Dam will linger in readers’ minds. But what sticks with you after the book is closed is not desolation and defeat; it’s blue water and open skies, exuberant children, dancing stars and, of course, music.