'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 29 April 2010

Review: Leaf

So, how can a wordless picture book make you weep? I guess that is the sheer power of pictures. And sentiment, cleverness and talent. Enter Stephen Michael King and Leaf.

This prolific and well-respected author received a very unsurprising nod from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, with an Honour Book sticker, proudly prominent on the cover of Leaf.

This gorgeous, leafy green book is one of an elite group of children’s books that combine elegant simplicity with complicated, multiple layers of meaning. This, of course, makes this book a sheer pleasure for all ages, not just children.

Using emotive, sketch-like illustrations and divinely colour-coordinated scheme, the author gives us an eye-enrapturing tale of a young boy on the run from a haircombing and haircut. Wordlessly, other than the delicious punctuation of typset onomatopoeia, we follow this young boy’s journey as a romp in the garden sees a single seed take root in his unruly hair.

Very soon, with a little sunshine and sweat, the seed begins to grow. As the boy cavorts with his beloved dog, doing things young boys and dogs do, he showers and kips for the night... and the sleeping boy is in serious danger of soon finding an oak tree sprouting from his scalp.

Next day, mum tolerates the seeded nest on her son’s head no longer and clips the seedling free, along with the bulk of his hair. Saddened, the boy plants the displaced seedling on a hill and watches it grow into a magnificent tree - a tree the growing boy revisits over the years until he, too, is grown, having his own unruly-headed child, accompanied by the romping offspring of his beloved pooch.

This may be a book about a little boy’s reluctance for a haircut, but the resultant heartfelt messages will bring tears to your eyes, for this book is also about the generations and the endless cycle of life.

Gorgeously designed and laid out, with lustrous colour and galloping typeface, Leaf is a must-own for anyone in love with life - or challenged by a haircut.

Title: Leaf
Author/Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: Scholastic, $20.00 RRP
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9781741696776
For ages: 2+
Type: Picture Book