Book Review: What’s your favourite colour? by Eric Carle & friends

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_whats_your_favourite_colour.jpgWhat’s Your Favourite Colour will be a fantastic addition to any art shelf for inspiration and to spark conversation about colours – both at home and in schools. Fifteen children’s book artists answer the simple question posed in the title and all respond through illustrations and text.

This is a visual feast, because each artist has created their own double page spread. As you turn the pages, each page is unique in style and voice. Handdrawn illustrations, computer graphics, collage; sometimes whimsical, sometimes detailed, sometimes bold and bright.

Likewise with the text – each artist explains the ‘why’ behind their colour choice in their unique voice. Some reasons are profound and connect to childhood memories or lived experiences or the emotions which colours provoke. Others are matter of fact – a yellow sun or an orange tiger. Some artists answer through poems, others have written paragraphs and one or two keep their response to one sentence – letting the picture speak for them.

It is a delightful read and very unpredictable as each artist speaks honestly. We see green elephants, we are transported to the beach for mint ice cream and you can imagine the red of birds flying. Grey is mentioned twice by artists and others are very specific in their colour choice (Yuyi Morales chooses Mexican Pink to be exact). Finally, Uri Shulevitz leaves us loving all the colours suggesting they are having a party.

Each picture, text and colour is an opportunity to conjure a vivid image in your mind. The book provides a provocation for the discussion of colours and why we like different colours best of all. I can’t wait to see children’s artistic responses to this book!

Reviewed by Sara Croft

What’s your favourite colour?
by Eric Carle & friends
Published by Walker Books Ltd
ISBN 9781406356526


Book Review: Snark, by David Elliot after Lewis Carroll

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_snarkThe creativity of authors and illustrators has always been a marvel to me, but Snark is a masterpiece that outdoes them all. How does a writer come up with such an amazing idea – to complete the backstory of Lewis Carroll’s best known Jabberwock and Hunting of the Snark poems?

David Elliott is based in Port Chalmers and has written and illustrated many award-winning books. He has also illustrated for others including Joy Cowley, Brian Jacques, Margaret Mahy and Australian John Flanaghan. This experience is evident in Snark which shows both his artistic, creative and linguistic skills.

David Elliot took as his starting point those mysterious poems which use ideas and language in ways new and exciting to the original readers, but still enticing to us today. I grew up reciting, “Twas brillig and the slithy toves..” Here we have the story of the individuals who set out to hunt the Snark. David Elliot has given a wonderful portrait in paint and in words of each of the participants in this ill-fated journey. He takes the information from Carroll’s work and builds it into a fuller portrait. The art work in this book is a joy on every page. By using pencil and wash with a limited palette, he creates images of energy and excitement. The expression on faces, the details of plants and maps, the towering cliffs and the valiant ship are all drawn superbly.

Within the story we are also given the two poems around which the story is based. This allows us to remember the details so important to understanding the tale. The Boots reveals the true story for the first time. What actually happened in the tulgey Wood, who got into trouble with the Jabberwock and what was the Snark? All these will be revealed when you delve between the pages.

Not only do we have the original poems beautifully illustrated anew, the tale of the actual voyage and its conclusion, we also get wonderful explanatory notes at the end. Here we are given the detail that those of a more scientific bent will be seeking. There are actual photos and diagrams, original items and historical facts to support the story. This lends a more serious gravitas to the book which some may be misguided enough to describe as fanciful.

I loved it. It is such a surprise to discover I was not the only reader who was dissatisfied with the abrupt ending to Carroll’s original poems. I am so grateful that the very creative and determined Mr Elliott has provided me with this beautiful book. I will not be sharing it with anyone else over the holiday season. Everyone ought to buy their own copy.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

by David Elliot after Lewis Carroll
Published by Otago University Press
ISBN 9781877578946