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

Monday 17 July 2023

Review: The Gargoyle

This stunning picture book by gifted wordsmith, Zana Fraillon, is  narrated by a boy passenger on a train. 

The story brings attention to several important themes: ageing, and the destruction of historical and valuable buildings by developers who replace beauty with high-rise apartments.

The gargoyle represents people as well as buildings and other non-modern structures and items.

The stone fixture has been discarded. He has nowhere to go. He drags his life, history, and sadness in a suitcase with him. The boy wonders what is his story.

To the shadowed, young passengers, the gargoyle is old therefore invisible. For the old must make way for the young, vibrant, and functional, for technology and speed.

Accosted by the ticket inspector, the gargoyle is shown the door, leaving behind his suitcase, which the boy retrieves.

When he disembarks, he opens the suitcase. The gargoyle’s life and history pour out. All his joys and sorrows, emotions and experiences are released from captivity. They stain the surrounding passengers who brush away the dust of old memories.

A small seed survives which promises life and renewal. Its green shoots are visible. The boy plants it filled with hope.

Fraillon is a provocateur. She challenges thought with her words. She dares the reader to dissect and discover her underlying messages.

Ross Morgan’s illustrations are equally enigmatic and offer the same challenge. His characters are in shadow, therefore disconnected. He shows only legs walking, not full bodies, portraying a view that people are seldom fully present. In their haste to reach their destinations, they have no time to stop and consider others.

This beautifully designed and presented picture book speaks loudly. It speaks for those who have no control over their remaining life, and to those that destroy beauty to build convenience.

Title: The Gargoyle
Author: Zana Fraillon
Illustrator: Ross Morgan
Publisher: Hachette, $24.99
Publication Date: 28 June 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780734421241
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book