My, what a special picture book this is. In the visual text a small boat collects a woman, baby and dog from a cliff as war rages behind them. As they travel across the oceans they rescue a polar bear, delivering it to its family before arriving at their journey’s end. The poetic verbal text entwines with the imagery, adding depth and a soft, caring voice.
I am the small green pea
you are the tender pod
The verbal and visual texts work together beautifully. According to a paragraph in the back of the book, this is the result of collaboration between Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King as he created illustrations for a wall project at the Manning Regional Art Gallery and she placed the verses, then re-worked them, as the story emerged. The theme of refugees has been explored in many picture books, this time it is different. This time we are reminded that we all need someone, and in turn we should take care of others in need of our help.
Line, colour and direction are the most prominent picturebook codes used throughout. The visual text, created in watercolour and ink, begins from the very first double page opening, where the small family flee their war torn home. As they run towards the right hand side of the page, the reader is ready to turn the page and continue. The starry night sky on both front and back end papers remind us that we all live under the same sky, and we should be able to rely on each other as the verbal text indicates.
There is much to see, listen and contemplate here. Comprehensive teaching notes are available for use in the classroom and I suggest this book is read and re-read with groups of various ages. It will motivate much discussion about refugees, the environment, and the importance of caring for others.
Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for supplying this book for review.