Title: Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Author and Illustrator: Leigh Hodgkinson
Publisher: Bloomsbury
RRP: $14.99 (Pb.)

A boy is looking for a special place to read his book. It is not easy finding the best place, and he tries many different locations. He finally settles and reads his book with his friends.

This picturebook has many aspects that can be discussed and studied. Featuring Leigh Hodgkinson’s familiar style and use of collage, this will be a firm favourite for many who love to read. I am sure all readers, regardless of age, regularly search for the most comfortable place to read. I have many around my home, inside and out! Even so, I can relate to this boy’s dilemma.

The well-worked text is perfect for reading aloud. It would make a worthwhile addition to a story time pack on books and reading for a public library story time session with a young audience, and it would also make a great read aloud for a school audience or an individual lap read.

Colour and direction have been used effectively throughout. The colour sets the scene for each double page spread, while the direction encourages readers to turn the page, such as the giant’s feet and the buzzing bee. The verbal text is mostly situated on the left hand page, with the exception of two double page spreads where it is on both pages. This reliability will be a comfort to some young readers.

There are various postmodern tendencies displayed in this picturebook. There is a nontraditional use of plot and various settings throughout, and an unusual use of narrator’s voice that is almost a commentary on what does and does not constitute a comfortable place to read. The use of different fonts and designs in the verbal text, matching the meaning in the narrative and visuals, mock traditional forms. Self-referentiality is present, with the text drawing attention to itself as a text. This occurs in two distinct ways. Firstly, the title on the cover of the book held by the boy is the same as the book itself, Are You Sitting Comfortably? This is seen in every picture but the very last. Here, on the last page, the boy is reading the book to his audience with his written text relaying what is actually happening. Self-referentiality at its best!

This book, published in 2016 in hardcover, is an absolute celebration of reading. Combining many design elements and visual and verbal aspects of the picturebook, it indulges the reader and viewer in a world where reading is valued and loved.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for supplying this book for review.

Activity Suggestions:

  • Have children draw, or bring photos, of their favourite place to read.
  • Read other books by Leigh Hodgkinson. Look at their design and illustrative techniques.
  • Have children make a picture using collage of various types of paper.
  • Look at the designs of chairs throughout the book. Discuss favourites. Have the children design their own reading chair on paper.
  • Set up a reading corner in the classroom. Discuss what is needed to make the area comfortable.