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

Monday 6 September 2010

Review: Spells

Title: Spells

Author/Illustrator: Emily Gravett

Publisher: Pan Macmillan, A$16.99RRP

Publication Date: 01/10/09

Format: Soft cover

ISBN: 9780230531369

For ages: 3-8

Type: Picture Book

About: Gravett's books are often resplendant with 'more' - cut outs, creative use of folded paper, sparkles, visual texture. They hardly need it, yet it still happens, and Spells is no exception. It just kinda adds to the allure because these additions seem to supercede the ordinary and are used in a way that makes them generally a-typical (pretty much like all of her work).

The a-typicalness all begins with the front cover endpaper and its very froggy personal ad. It then moves onto the title page - whereupon you will find the author name 'Emily Gribbit' (frogs. geddit?) - and it continues well into the book with split pages, quasi-invisible background shapes, shimmery stars, bare bottoms and general visual ecstasy.

But (and it's no surprise) the writing is also wonderful - and therein lies the success of Gravett's books. It's just so warm and well-rounded yummy, like a fat bun, straight from the oven.

In Spells, not only is there an adorable storyline in which a frog finds a book of spells that will turn him into a prince (alas, he fails to read the fine print which appears, most belatedly, at the very end of the book), but we're also treated to a series of spelling (note the pun?) options created by several split pages - that variously turn the frog into a snake, bird, rabbit and newt, among other magical transformations - like snabbit, fird and rewt.

This magical book is funny, fun and fabulous - with Gravett's classic cleverness and delicious play on words that slip comfortably around truly divine illustrations. Scrumptiously spellalicious.

This book is available online