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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Review: Chase Through Venice

I remember my visit to Venice very clearly. It's a city with a certain mystery to it - I recall thinking, it's busy and smelly and dirty... and yet, I love it. Venice has a real charm that just can't be defined.

When I saw a picture book about Venice, I wondered if that essence of the place would carry over to a picture book.

Chase Through Venice follows a young boy, Marco, in his life as a gondolier's son. As he races through the narrow streets to find a tourist who left his camera on the gondola, he searches frantically for the man's red cap amidst a sea of people.

It's a cute story, but it misses the mark for me. The story is slow to start, with half the story feeling like an introduction, meaning that the chase is very short and we don't get to see much of Venice.

The story and the illustrations, too, don't quite match up. There's talk of the busy piazza, with an image of the boy looking down at a handful of people down there, and when Marco reaches it there is no one around. The canals are a bright, vivid blue - more like the reef surrounding a Pacific island than the murky brown waters of Venice. This is an understandable misrepresentation of the city, clearly making it a bright and cheerful set of images for kids - and yet, it's a shame.

I can't help but be a little disappointed that this wonderful city has been underrated so much. Its mystery, its busyness, the interesting colours that mirror in the dull waters, and the potential for an amazing 'chase' through the dead-end streets and busy piazzas.

Perhaps if it had been set somewhere other than Venice, I'd find it more enjoyable. Nevertheless, it's a cute story and a lovely lead character.

Title: Chase Through Venice
Author: Sally Gould
Illustrator: Laura Peterson
Publisher: Windy Hollow Books, $27.95 RRP
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921136733
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture book

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