The Green Cloud

Featured Photo: Taken from school website | © AS Neill Summerhill School

As a reading tutor, almost every week I am faced with the question of what I should read to the school children or, even better, what I can read to them without overtaxing their limited attention span.

In the first grades, the children's books are as beautifully illustrated as possible, although I have to say that there are four very different tastes: that of the teachers, that of the librarian, that of the children and, last but not least, mine. It is particularly noticeable how tastes and prejudices have changed in the last half century alone, and this is so obvious that I no longer dare to come around the corner with Struwwelpeter.

So I'm already looking forward to being able to read outside of primary school from a completely different children's book, which was "ancient" when I was at school, but was still far too "revolutionary" for most teachers at the time.

It is a book by Alexander Sutherland Neil from 1938, which should be more up-to-date than ever among young people today, and which originally bears the title "The Last Man Alive". In Germany it is better than The Green Cloud. Told to the children of Summerhill known, and only appeared here a good 30 years later, namely in 1971.

Both the plot of the book and the narrative technique still take some getting used to for many readers today. It is also interesting that Neill himself was a pedagogue and that he founded his, according to premises and principles that are still very controversial today Summer Hill School still exists.

However, I do not know whether the book is still read by teachers there.

"Hate breeds hate, and love breeds love."

AS Neill, Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood
(1995: 13)