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

Sunday 23 October 2011

Review: The Django

Have you met a Django? Jean did and it caused him all sorts of strife. For the Django was full of mischief, a troublesome NOBODY that only Jean could see.

Jean is a strong-willed lad who stoically withstands the cheeky pranks of the Django until one day when his patience is stretched too far. In anger, he lets the Django know that he does not want him in his life.

Things definitely become easier without the Django around, but are they as much fun? Too late, Jean realises that the Django brings an excitement and unpredictability to life that almost makes up for the chaos.

This is a quaint little story, told in colourful, colloquial language. Pinfold’s somewhat elfin Django has a childlike innocence and playfulness that make him extremely likable, even when he is causing havoc in the life of the young male protagonist.

The Django is a beautiful book and great care has been taken with the design to give it an antique feel, as though of a story hidden in an attic that has recently been rediscovered. The illustrations are rich and textured, bringing to life the gypsy community in which Jean lives. Small details of the time and place are lovingly recreated, giving a sweet, folksy flavour to the story.

Pinfold has a fresh and distinctive narrative style with the knack of creating a new and interesting turn of phrase and the use of a first person narrative lends a closeness to the retelling, giving the feel of sitting around a campfire and listening to a storyteller.

The name Django is taken from a famous European jazz musician, Django Reinhardt, and the story includes a short biography on Reinhardt at the end. This ties in nicely with the role of the banjo in The Django’s plot, the banjo being the catalyst for the Django’s appearance and also Jean’s comfort once the Django has gone away.

If I had one criticism it would be that at times the story feels a little too wordy. With such attention to detail, it is not an example of the more succinct storytelling style that has become the norm in picture books today. It demands more attention and a bigger commitment from the reader so would be less suitable for under 5s or children with short attention spans.

The Django is a story for avid readers. A story for lovers of books.

- this review by new KBR contributor, Jodie Wells-Slowgrove

Title: The Django
Author/Illustrator: Levi Pinfold
Publisher: Templar Publishing, $29.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2010
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781840111590
For ages: 5 - 8
Type: Picture Book