Article by Wu Chen Khoo
We read a lot of book to and with our children. Angela Johnson’s books have long been a favourite in our household, with her wide range of subjects and narrative styles, ranging from Rain Feet (a very short poem) to Just Like Josh Gibson (a narrative story). We recently acquired When I Am Old With You, and it’s spectacular.
A short story that explores the relationship between a child and their grandfather, aging, life and longing, the inevitability of death and the innocence of youth, it reads quickly and lyrically like most of her work. The art is beautifully wistful and the underlying themes are subtle and interesting and when they yield up their secrets the words will stick in your throat.
While not all of Angela Johnson’s work is quite that impactful, a lot of it shines with her brilliance at taking serious and powerful themes and creating accessible, often whimsical stories around them.