A children’s book from 1983 which really made me think. What was depicted was actually the opposite

Over the weekend my son (who has recently learned how to walk and say Peppa, Dog, Chicken and Cat) picked up a pile of books and handed them over to me to read. The book he selected was a 1983 book titled Gorilla by Anthony Browne.

The first page immediately caught my attention. Hannah’s love for Gorillas is described but we are also told she has never seen one in real life because “her father didn’t have time to take her to see one at the zoo. He didn’t have time for anything.”

The subsequent pages got even darker for me. A poor girl asking for time from her dad but the response from the father was that he is too busy. He went to work everyday before Hannah went to school and in the evenings he continued to work at home. When the weekends came, her father was always tired and they never did anything together.

A newspaper is the barrier between father and daughter
Fathers back towards Hannah with shadow creating a barrier between the two

This seemed very alien to me as I couldn’t imagine not making time out for my children. I skimmed through the rest of the book very quickly and replaced it with a Peppa Pig book, more colorful and more fun. Later that evening, once the kids were in bed, I had an urge to finish reading the book hoping to read a happy ending to a not so happy start.

In actual fact, this a heart felt story of a girl who longs for Dad to not be ‘too tired’ to talk or play with her after a long day at work. Dad is a single father who works hard to support her and often did not seem to have a lot of time to entertain her. Feeling lonely the night before her birthday, her love for gorilla’s takes her on a magical dream to the zoo! The next morning, Hannah rushes downstairs to tell her father about her magical night and he offers to take her to the zoo for her birthday. This makes her very, very happy.

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