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

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Review: Edge of the World

This is an amazing work of art and prose in the category of outstanding picture books created by Margaret Wild and Shaun Tan, which separate themselves because of their unique and individual content.

Trevaskis draws pictures with his words. Harris challenges the reader to look deeply into his pictures, to observe and read without words. Together they have produced a collector’s dream seven years in the making.

Fisherman Toby McPhee is swathed in his grief. All colour left his life when his family was stolen by the sea. His sadness has permeated the village at the edge of the world where nobody smiles as they go about their lifeless, daily routine.

 The women watch their loved ones leave daily and pray for their safe return. The children also live a colourless life, devoid of laughter and expression. It is reflected in the buildings and the people’s attitude. Even the topography speaks of the emotional state of the inhabitants in the village at the edge of the world.

It is when Toby catches some paint pots in his net that restoration begins.

‘As he dipped his brushes into the pots, he whispered to the stars in the sequined sky, for it was there that his heart belonged’.

Colour returns to his world and to the people of the village. The colour pots represent his rebirth. The lightening of his heart begins with the bright yellow that lights the surroundings and disperses the shroud of darkness that his grief had created. Toby is able to find closure by painting the plaque for his family. Finally, this proof of life releases him.

Harris has captured the loneliness and isolation of the village. The dismal chilly blue that envelopes the people is perfect. The towering, shadowed houses also reflect the blankness of grief. The empty, repetitious days are ideally portrayed.

The prose is emotive and superbly crafted. The blending of the artwork and prose is almost a single thought, as is the combination of grief, loss and ultimately hope, that are the book’s themes. This is an outstanding publication that will be talked about, looked at, and loved by all ages.

Anastasia Gonis is a regular reviewer, interviewer and contributor to Buzz Words, an electronic newsletter for writers and illustrators for children. This is her second contribution to Kids Book Review.

Title: Edge of the World
Author: Ian Trevaskis
Illustrator: Wayne Harris
Publisher: Walker Books, $29.95 RRP
Publication Date: 11 February 2012
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781921150210
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book