A young boy stays at home, unable to play outside with his friends. At night, however, he dreams of far off lands with many things, some to eat, some to see. By day he returns to his bed, interacting a little with his friends outside, flying paper planes to each other.
This timeless text is taken from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1885 publication A Child’s Garden of Verses. The poem is accompanied by strikingly beautiful illustrations by Robert Hunter. Taking entire double page spreads, they envelope the viewer in the boy’s worlds, the imagined and the real. Colour is used to full effect, a mix of bright against hues of blue. The style, while appearing to be surreal, reminds me of the children’s picture books of the 1950s and 1960s. There is no modern technology to be seen and it would in fact look out of place in the setting Hunter has created. The angles and perspectives vary between illustrations, giving the book depth and variety. The end papers, coloured in varying shades of pink that echo the title and moon on the front cover, are decorated with items from the story.
There is much to see in the illustrations as the real and dream states interact. If you look closely you will see other works by Robert Louis Stevenson in the boy’s room. Robert Hunter has made a poem published in 1885, more than 130 years ago, come alive for young readers and viewers of today. Here’s hoping those sharing the book will also share other poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses.
Many thanks to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.