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

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Review: The Flower

Title: The Flower

Author: John Light

Illustrator: Lisa Evans

Publisher: Child's Play, $12.95 RRP

Format: Softcover

ISBN: 9781846430169

For ages: 3-9

Type: Picture book

About: I remember reaching very very quickly to open the cover of The Flower at the recent CBCA Children's Book Conference in Sydney. I had not seen it before and was rapidly entranced by the magnificent and very sophisticated illustrations by the talented Lisa Evans, who weaves such an emotive and melancholic visual through this book - it's just utterly beautiful.

It's not just the illustrations, however, that do The Flower proud. The storyline, by experienced author John Light, is so searingly simple and clearly written, it's almost perfect (remember there's actually 'no such thing as perfect', as my neice says).

Young Brigg lives in a dank, monochromatic room in a dank, monochromatic city, with little colour and little to dream for. He walks to work through the dank, monochromatic streets to the library, where he works amongst the dank, monochromatic books.

But then one day, he finds some colour. In a mysterious section marked DO NOT READ, Brigg cannot help himself. He plucks a book from the shelf and this clandestine find features none other than the heart stopping magnificence of... a flower.

A flower? He's never seen such a vibrantly beautiful object before. What are these flowers? Where can they be found? Brigg hunts the city for this amazing beauty and finds nothing... but then, in the window of an old junk shop, he sees a dusty wrapper - with a flower on the outside, and inside are some strange little wrinkled brown things called 'seeds'.

Brigg follows the instructions on the 'seed' packet but with no 'earth' around, he instead scrapes together some dust, searches the city for enough water to fill a mug, and plants the seeds.

You can imagine his disappointment when nothing happens.

Of course, a while later, Brigg wakes to find the oddest green shoot curling out of his mug - Brigg is overjoyed. He loves his new object, but when it's sucked away by the automatic cleaning system while he's at work, joy turns to despair - what will be the fate of his leafy green shoot?

Let's just say, its fate is to colour Brigg's world - and so concludes this goose-bumping story on a world that our children's children may just know one day... a world without green, without fresh, without beauty.

A story of hope, beauty and the power of nature, this amazing book is one of my current favourites, and should be in every library and home of this sometimes dank, monochromatic world.

Yet another quite prolific author without a web presence of any kind, you can learn more about some of John's books here. Author website

Illustrator website

This book is available online

2 comments:

  1. Coincidentally I just found this at my library a few days ago. I agree, it's wonderful. Although I'm not sure why dystopian bleak futures has become a genre for picture books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's true! There are more and more 'bleak' narratives coming out (am in the middle of Morris Gleitzman's 'Once' right now), although of course, they've always been around.

    For me, I guess they're vital and becoming more popular because they allow kids to see the world in deeper and lighter shades of grey rather than the monochromatic grey and sugar-coated cotton wool padding they're consistently subjected to nowadays.

    I'm often struck by how clueless my own children are about hardship, suffering and overcoming adversity... which may be why I enjoy the emotion and spiritual insight such books can bring.

    What does anyone else think?

    ReplyDelete

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