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

Monday 18 October 2010

Review: This is Hong Kong

This is Hong Kong was first published in 1965 and re-issued in 2007, so you can imagine the changes the cityscapes have gone through since Sasek first created this illustrious journey.

I can hardly recognise the city from the top of Victoria Peak, where the book opens, but what a joy it is to see the city through the eyes of a man in 1965. I mean, here is a book with a map of Asia, drawn and marked with 'Saigon' and 'Canton'. Glorious stuff.

This is Hong Kong opens with this map of the Hong Kong territories, and then takes us on board the Victoria Peak Tram to view this map in breathtaking reality. And Sasek had a true knack for showing breathtaking beauty with nary a photo in sight.

His scapes of Hong Kong, her harbour, the ferries (which are looking a right sight better then than they are now!), Hong Kong Island, the boats at Aberdeen, Kowloon, the New Territories... just all so delicious, but nothing more delicious than the close up detail.

You see, on closer inspection This is Hong Kong is resplendant with the teensy little things that make Hong Kong one of the most magnificent cities in the world. The smiling kids, a man cooking a whole duck over a pot stove, the junks filled with people and chickens, the umbrellas at the food market, the peach blossoms for good luck, the accountant using an abacus...

It's all here and it's all, happily, as relveant today as it was in the 1960s... and what a joy to visit Hong Kong back then and yet also discover the updates that are written in text on the final page of the book (and there's a lot of text!).

With its typically sleek, simple and fascinating text, striking retro illustrations and that magic Sasek did like no other... This is Hong Kong will feed the soul of every travel-loving adult and child, the world over.

Title: This is Hong Kong
Author/Illustrator: M Sasek
Publisher: Universe Publishing, A$34.95RRP
Publication Date: 1965/2007
Format: Hardcover with dustjacket
ISBN: 9780789315601
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book

You can buy this book online