Archive | June, 2012

Broken by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Angus Gomes (Walker Books Australia)

23 Jun

BrokenApparently many years in the making, Broken is a gripping, finely crafted ‘mise en abyme’ – a story within a story where the inner story, set inside a comic book world, is framed by the outer story of Zara who is in a coma. A newspaper article at the start of the book lets us know that Zara was on the back of her brother Jem’s motorbike when he swerved to avoid a toddler. Hailed as a hero by the toddler’s parents and the media, Zara doesn’t know that Jem, the keeper of her secrets, has died and she is still searching for him in her comatose state. She enters a comic-book world which is shown in graphics and with a different typeface. Here she encounters Jem’s favourite comic superhero, Hoodman, and the angel hero, Dark Eagle. Chased and confronted by the evil Morven, she uses her artistic gifts to draw and erase doorknobs and windows as she seeks and escapes. Her coma state doesn’t stop her from some awareness of the real world, where conversations are shown in italics, and her terrifying back-story is also merged into the narrative with extraordinary skill. Images of doors, especially a  blue door, rooms, a cupboard, a pathway of shells, water and glass and dark and light provide clues as to what has gone before and develop the tale without interrupting the lucid style.

Walker Books has also recently published another book for mid secondary readers which celebrates the power of art to unlock and enhance life; The Colour of Trouble by Gerry Bobsien. Both these novels are deserving of very wide readerships and Broken, in particular, should be lauded as an exceptional work.

by Joy Lawn, Children’s Literature Consultant

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The Red Wheelbarrow by Briony Stewart (University of Qld Press)

7 Jun

Young children love to play in small spaces. Two sisters spend almost the entire book in a wheelbarrow. Every illustration shows a special moment in time; each is often only subtly different from the one before. The older sister lifts the younger into the wheelbarrow to begin a time of giggling, shared lollies, an upset and making up. Some chickens also tell their own story on the opposite pages while one independent or inquisitive chook ventures closer and closer to the girls, perhaps attracted by their beguiling company and antics.

The action is shown in, what are basically, frameless panels surrounded by crisp white space. The focus is then put clearly on the characters, with room for children to add to the story from their own experiences or imaginations.  This wordless picture book would also make a beautiful silent short movie.

by Joy Lawn, Children’s Literature Consultant