‘The rich dessert of Australian Picture Books’

I feel like this blog post doesn’t need much of an introduction. All you really need to know is it is written by the exceptional Peter Carnavas. He is the illustrator of the newly released ‘My Brother is a Beast’ , which he created with Damon Young (yes our amazing guest author at our #picbookbc chat /party Thursday night!).

damonyoung

He has also many picture books to his name and if you haven’t come across any of his beauties….where have you been?! Check them out here…quick sticks! You will thank me.

Thank you Peter for this awesomeness .

We have a ‘Picture book’ party VIP hat with your name on it.

                                 

The Rich Dessert of Australian Picture Books

Peter Carnavas

Great picture books are like great pop songs. Undeniably charming, universally appealing. They can cover the grandest of themes – or the silliest – and they initially take just a few minutes to consume. In these storytelling forms, tales of love and loneliness sit comfortably alongside works that seem to have no meaning at all, but simply exist for the fun of it. Both are (usually) bound by a tight structure that has little to do with the art itself: a pop song fits into three minutes for radio airplay; a picture book must fit into thirty-two pages because that’s good for printing. Nobody seems to complain about it, though. Pop songs worm into our heads, set up camp, and stay there for years. So do the best picture books.

Dive into the picture book section of any library or bookshop and you’ll be embraced by the imaginings of the warmest, most caring storytellers. As you flick through the pages and lose yourself in that magic picture book quality – the marriage of words and pictures – you know you’re in the hands of people who care deeply about the world. There aren’t many art forms that speak directly to children and grown-ups at the same time, and in such a wonderful way. We all know the importance of sharing picture books for language development, but the greatest benefit is the way in which picture books bring people together – a parent and a child, or a teacher and twenty-five children. They are designed to be shared, but, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sensible grown-ups poring over picture books for hours, alone (no matter how many strange looks we get).

The best picture books reflect the best parts of ourselves, and the adventures we all travel, big or small. Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood depict the most beautiful relationships with just a few lines and a small sequence of illustrations, whether it’s the friendship between two children or between a dog and a chook. Gus Gordon’s picture books feature slightly eccentric loners trying to find their way in the world, as in Herman and Rosie, the tale of a crocodile and a deer eluding and finally finding each other in New York. Reading Tohby Riddle’s books, such as Great Escape From City Zoo or Milo A Moving Story, is like watching a lovely old film. Leigh Hobbs charms us into caring about the most subversive, anarchic characters, like Old Tom and Mr Chicken. Damon Young’s picture book series celebrates the diversity of families through characters ordinary and absurd, the latest being My Brother is a Beast (all illustrated by me – blatant self promotion complete). And Bob Graham slows everything down and reminds us that we have more in common than we think, and that no matter where we live, the same sun falls on every one of us.

I have only picked out a few delightful crumbs from the rich dessert that is the world of Australian picture books. If you have read this far, you are probably already a hopeless picture book addict. If you aren’t, then find a bookshop, order a coffee (they almost always sell coffee), and jump in. Into the picture books, not the coffee.

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