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

Thursday 12 August 2021

Review: Billy The Punk

‘On Saturday Billy’s mum
took him to the markets.
He saw PUNKS!
Big punks, LITTLE punks, FAT punks,
SKINNY punks and he thought they were GREAT. ’

After seeing the punks, Billy decides to wear punk clothes to school instead of his school uniform. Despite growing hostility, Billy adds more and more items to his punk look. His teacher and father become furious. Billy thinks he looks great!  

Jessica Carroll’s character, Billy, is bold and curious. In fact, Carroll’s writing wonderfully captures the innate curiosity of kids. The transformation of Billy from schoolboy to punk causes the people around him to treat him quite differently.

Carroll’s writing exposes the assumptions that we may make about people and in doing so gives readers an opportunity to reflect on this behaviour. She has created a beautifully layered story leaving readers with plenty of food for thought. The ending is deeply satisfying and is a good model for writers.

Craig Smith’s detailed and energetic illustrations capture Australian suburban life in the 1990s. His style is created using a pen and nib and is embellished with crosshatching. His loose style creates rich characterisation and in particular adds a wonderful edginess to the punks. Smith has used colour to highlight the emotion in the story. This is particularly evident in the double-page spread where orange radiates around Billy’s teacher and reinforces her anger.

This award winning book is for 5 - 8 year olds but easily extends to older readers. The nuanced story lends itself to a myriad of teaching opportunities and is a great reference for picture book writers and illustrators.

As Billy the Punk was first published back in 1995, it may be a little hard to find. Try hunting down a dog-eared copy from your library or specialist book retailer. Whether you already know and love Billy or you’re yet to have met him, just remember Billy rocks!

Title: Billy The Punk
Author: Jessica Carroll
Illustrator: Craig Smith
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publication Date: 26 April 1996
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780091829346
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book