A Swift Return KS1 teaching resources

A Swift Return Q&A with Fiona Barker

We had the privilege of speaking with the talented Fiona Barker, author of the captivating book “A Swift Return,” brought to life by the skilled Howard Gray. Here’s everything we discovered about the inspiration behind the book!

How did you come up with the initial idea for ‘A Swift Return’?

After Setsuko and the Song of the Sea was so well received, we had the idea of creating a suite of stories based on the ancient elements of water, air, earth and fire. Since Setsuko features a whale, an iconic ocean species we wanted a similarly iconic symbol of the air and the swift came to mind because of their beauty and epic migration.

Alongside the little swift, Aria and Yusuf are the book’s main characters. Can you tell us about them and how their working together makes a big difference?

Aria is a dreamer. She always has her head in the clouds, literally and metaphorically. Yusuf is very practical. We see him working on a bike at the start of the story. They’re a long way apart. But finding the swift brings them together and they form a friendship that transforms them and, in the end, their city.

How do you manage to balance an engaging story with a serious theme like air pollution?

Just like Setsuko, we wanted to keep the environmental theme soft touch. So this is really a story about two children finding friendship as they work towards a common goal. The environmental message is hidden inside that.

How do you think parents and teachers can use ‘A Swift Return’ to talk to children about pollution and the environment in general?

I really hope reading A Swift Return will open up discussions about ways that children can help look after their home by making small changes that have big impacts. Air pollution in particular is a topic that gets neglected compared to ocean plastic for example. It’s harder to see air pollution and its effects but only last year, schools in Delhi were closed for a week because air quality in the city made it dangerous to go outside.

If there’s one thing you want people to take away from reading ‘A Swift Return’ what would it be?

That making small changes can make a big difference, especially if you bring your friends along for the ride.






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