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

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Posts of Halloween Past: Scarygirl

This large format graphic novel picture book by the talented Nathan Jurevicius is a true riot of visual splendour. Virtually wordless, the incredibly beautiful, almost fluorescent paintings are a sight to behold.

The edgy, emotive and lusciously-coloured illustrations lend a haunting element to this story of a little, scarred ‘girl’ who lives alone in a dark forest. One cold dark night, a large octopus-like creature discovers the girl and – it’s love at first sight.

The two become fast friends and the octopus takes on almost a mentorship role with his little charge. He even builds her her very own pirate-ship-tree house and finally the little girl feels content.

But who is this bearded man who appears in her dreams and steals away the warmth from her smile?

Then one night, Scarygirl hears a strange noise coming from the base of her tree. As she creeps down the trunk and between the tree’s roots, she discovers a mystical rabbit who may just hold the key to finding this man who has seemingly hurt her.

When she explains to the octopus she wants to travel with the rabbit to find this man, her friend is not happy and refuses to accompany her, but Scarygirl leaves anyway… only to have octopus follow at a distance…

Their journey is fraught with danger and strange creatures, and the way this story unfolds is steeped in betrayal and misunderstanding, fear and trust, bravery and togetherness. And of course, the overwhelming message is love.

The ending of this story is left unfinished, but in a delicious way, making room for more on the Scarygirl adventure – leaving us with a glimpse of the man she dreams of – and the tentacle the man cut from octopus way back when… suspended in a glass jar in ‘Dr Maybee’s lab’…

Intoxicating, endlessly visually stunning – this is a typical wordless book in that it gives the reader complete creative license to interpret the story the way they see fit. It allows them the chance to discover and elaborate their findings in the most creative of ways… and the added bonus is that the paintings are something you will never forget.

Beautiful. And not too scary.

Review by Tania McCartney

Title: Scarygirl
Author/Illustrator: Nathan Jurevicius
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, A$35RRP
Publication Date: October 2009
Format: Hardcover with dustjacket
ISBN: 9781741753707
For ages: 6+
Type: Graphic Novel Picture Book

See the Scarygirl website