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

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Review: When You're A Boy

This book is, quite simply, sublime. I got some good-vibe goosebumps within the first three or four double-paged spreads, and I’m seeing a lot of picture books these days!

‘When you’re a boy

you are told how to be

just like the white-roaring oceans.

But I’ve learned

the fierceness of flowers

the glory of colour

and the beauty of dreaming.’

When You’re A Boy is a book for every human being regardless of gender; a book for every age regardless of upbringing. And it’s especially relevant for small boys.

The words seem fairly simple and harken back to a childhood when girls were told ‘Oh, look at the pretty flowers and the sunset and the pink of the sky’ and boys were told ‘Oh, look at that old dog. It’s… brown.’ In truth, the simple words of this picture book speak a complex, unquantifiable mystery that reaches directly into your heart.

The book touches on the inherent and often ingrained attitudes of society towards boys: how they should be and act and speak and see the world. It reminds us that sometimes in our lives, unspoken or outdated conventions become and remain, habit. And it turns these conventions poetically, respectfully and majestically onto their tousled heads.

There is so much to love about this book: There are words that sweep across paint- strokes that sweep across pages, in homage to clouds in the sky.

There are sunsets that are squished into the tiniest square inch of a page and yet seem to take up the whole, entire book.

There is paint so thick you can feel and smell it. Paint strokes so bold that they might still be wet or sticky on the page. 

There are people that I want to grab onto with both hands and just hug tightly to my chest for a very, very long time.

And there is an ending, of course. An ending so delicious that I just want to wrap it up and hide it under my pillow to keep with me forever.

Stunning. Highly recommended.

When You’re A Boy
Author: Blake Nuto
Publisher: Affirm Press, $24.99
Publication Date: 29 August 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781922863652
For ages: 3 - 7
Type: Picture Book