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

Friday 22 August 2014

Review: Vanilla Ice Cream

Sometimes the most simple of concepts are the most powerful, and Bob Graham is certainly a master at plucking a single, everyday idea and weaving into it a Persian rug of past history and future possibility. In Vanilla Ice Cream, the threads that flow from a single, unassuming moment in time become rich with emotion and the vastness of our world and the lives we live—and at the other end, trail off again into another moment in time that’s so deceptive in its simplicity, it’s almost ordinary.

But oh, it’s not.

For a child, particularly a very young child, the richness to be found in the ordinary is still sharp. A bright colour, a crinkle, some texture, a new flavour on the tongue. These are all monumental joys to a baby or toddler—everyday treasures that are lost as we age. This is what Vanilla Ice Cream celebrates—and more.

Far away, at a truck-stop in India, a sparrow rises from the dust and hitches a ride on a truck carrying rice to the docks. By chance, he manages to become an inadvertent stowaway and soon finds himself navigating the skies above a vast ocean—and soon enough—the land of a very new place. A place of skyscrapers and eucalyptus trees.

There, he meets toddler Edie Irvine who’s off to Café Botanica with her grandma and grandad for a wee treat. A series of everyday moments, of nothing unordinary—a dog, a leash, an ice cream from the café—lead to a moment in time for Edie that cannot really be appreciated unless it’s first-hand experience. Luckily, both children and adults—at least most of them in this fortunate place we call Australia—have had this first-hand experience. And as Edie feels it, we too feel it. Really feel it.

And the moment is truly precious.

I’m hoping you don’t read a review of this book that reveals too much more (please, reviewers, no spoilers). The impact of Vanilla Ice Cream is in both its first-time reading … and in those first-hand experiences we’ll never forget.

Title: Vanilla Ice Cream
Author/Illustrator: Bob Graham
Publisher: Walker Books, $27.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 August 2014
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406350098
For ages: 3 – 8
Type: Picture Book