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

Monday, 19 November 2012

Review: Little Blue

Little Blue is a book that calls to be taken from the bookshelf to be read and reread. It was one of the Notable Picture Books in The Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards in 2009.

The illustrations are magical, reminding me of my mother’s fairy-tale books that I used to pore over as a small child. And like all fairy-tales, while the story is sad at times, it does has a happy ending.

Little Blue has been lost in the forest for a long time and wants to go home. One day Little Blue is found by Will and he asks her ‘What does your home look like?’ The two children then begin to wander through the landscape, searching for her home.

As Little Blue describes her home to Will, her home is revealed in the illustrations as blue pencil Chinese style bridges, boats, mountains, a castle (pagoda) and her father wearing oriental clothing, on a white background. (It might be worth noting here that adult readers should listen to the voice inside their head that says there is something familiar about Little Blue’s home.)

The landscape the children are searching though is depicted in the story using the traditional fairy-tale colour palate of the early and mid-1900s. The forest imagery includes bluebirds, oak trees with gnarled faces in them, toadstool rings, and an abundance of English flowers; foxgloves, bluebells, lily of the valley and more.

Not only do Gaye Chapman’s illustrations show a detailed landscape, they also adds to the story by showing the children’s emotions through their body language.

Little Blue longs for home and misses her father while Will tries to comfort her.

‘We have searched and searched,’ said Little Blue.

‘I will never find my way home.’

‘You can come home with me,’ said Will.

In the final pages the adult readers will have an ahhhhh feeling as the penny finally drops as to why Little Blue’s river, willow and apple trees are so familiar. Finally, all readers will appreciate the happy ending and realise what a magical imagination Will has.

- this review by Leanne Barrett

Title: Little Blue
Author/Illustrator: Gaye Chapman
Publisher: Little Hare $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2008
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781921049989
For ages: 4-7 years
Type: Picture Book

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