The Dam

This week for PPBF, I want to share a gentle, thoughtful, beautiful picture book with a story like none I’ve ever seen.

 Title: The Dam9780763695972_p0_v4_s550x406

Written by: David Almond

Illustrated by: Levi Pinfold

Candlewick Press, 2018

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/topics: music, change, hope, loss


He woke her early.

“Bring your fiddle,” he said.

The day was dawning.

Into the valley they walked.


Kielder Water is a wild and beautiful place, rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another — for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond’s lyrical narrative — inspired by a true tale — pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable, and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.

Activities and Resources:

Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the life in the valley and life with the lake. What activities would there be? What wildlife? How would lives of children change?

Why I like this book:

This is such an interesting and different kind of story – of the change a dam brings to life and the land. Dream-like illustrations mesh perfectly with simple text to create a special time and place filled gratitude for what was, embracing new possibilities, celebrating the magic of music, and the oneness of life. It’s a very uplifting acceptance of change.


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Kid Lit Frenzy for more great nonfiction books for kids! 

6 thoughts on “The Dam

  1. Thanks so much for reminding me that I wanted to buy this book after seeing it on display (Best Children’s Books) in the NY Public Library. The story is sad, sweet, hopeful, scientifically interesting, and the illustrations are beautiful and fit perfectly to make this a stunning book on all levels. I connected to it personally when the little girl played her violin in people’s empty houses knowing no one would ever play there again.I have done that several times, but only because I didn’t know if I would be back. I did get to sing in the stairwell of the school I worked at before it was knocked down and rebuilt, and I do remember having the same feelings as the little girl, I also liked this book because I got to learn about an interesting type of music I wasn’t really familiar with. Good review Beth!😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I shared this book a while ago, adore all that David Almond presents to us and this is a gorgeous one, poignant and realistically portrayed. There is a lake in our mountains (a reservoir) that flooded a town, though they did move many of the buildings to what is now the northeast shore. Thanks for the good review!

    Liked by 1 person

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