In Cyclone, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have created a highly evocative picture book. It is a tribute to the people of Darwin who were surprised and stranded by the cyclone, and to their hope for the future.
Read the story aloud, slowly, and you’ll feel the storm approaching and tearing through the city, leaving behind a flattened landscape. There’s an eerie silence in the sparseness and rhythm of the text and the experiences it describes.
“Chairs grow wings and pot plants smash
Shattered tree trunks fly and crash.
Across the lawn
All the world
Has turned to
Be sure to spend time looking closely at the illustrations too, as they transport you back in time to the devastating storm and its aftermath. Bruce Whatley based his work on photographs taken at the time, and says “[m]ost were black-and-white images, and those that were colour had the washed out feel typical of photos taken in the 70s. I used a toned-down palette to help reflect this and give the book a more documentary style.” The use of pencil, acrylic wash and muted colours is just right for depicting the weather and enhancing the emotion.
Perfect for parents and teachers to read with their children and talk about the power of our environment and survival of the elements. A highly recommended book.
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Publisher: Scholastic, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: February 2016
For ages: 4-8
Type: Picture Book