When bricks go missing from the grey town walls, the Mayor is mad. He declares there is a thief taking bricks from the walls that protect the townspeople from everything that is different and the townspeople agree. But bricks keep disappearing and we see the people who live on the other side of the walls. People who look a bit different, eat different food speak strange words and dance to offbeat music.
They search for the thief but cannot help but smell the delicious food, hear new words and the lively music. When they find the thief, the Mayor is angry that someone would dare take bricks from the walls that protect the townspeople from things that are different or unusual, strange and unfamiliar. The people stay to agree then they remember all the wonderful new smells and sounds and sights. They look around and see how grey and drab looking their town is and then at all the colour and light coming through the holes in the walls. They no longer knew what they were scared and angry about and realised the thief had given them a gift. The Mayor was still mad so they gave him his own special gift.
The illustrations are ink, pencil with digital colouring. The grey, drab colours of the town give it a one-dimensional impression enlivened by the odd touch of neon colour on birds and the thief. As the bricks disappear the drabness gives way to more colour, a representation of the new sounds, sights and smells.
This story, a modern fable, is multi-layered and a good starting point for discussions in classrooms, at home and just generally about difference and how and why we should welcome it. It is a simple story but has many parallels throughout history and in modern day politics worldwide.