Stylish imagery

Stylish imagery

Fire

by Jackie French et al.

A good picture book melds a well-crafted text with illustrations that interpret and extend the narrative. The illustrator’s choice of artistic style is central to how effectively this combined narrative is communicated to readers.

Australian Children’s Laureate Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley have had a long and successful collaborative relationship. Their latest picture book is Fire (Scholastic, $24.99 hb, 32 pp, 9781742838175), a companion book to the award-winning Flood (2011). French poetically charts the fire’s progress, as it grows from a winding, creeping snake to a ‘blood-red wall’ that swallows all before it. Whatley interprets French’s text with a series of impressionistic double-page spreads that capture the growing horror of the bushfire. Caught up in the burning landscapes are those whose lives are affected: native animals fleeing the flames; firefighters struggling to cope with the enormity of the disaster; families grieving for what they have lost. In the end there is hope; the fire is extinguished, the bush regenerates, lives are rebuilt.

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Published in April 2014 no. 360
Stephanie Owen Reeder

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder is a Canberra-based author, illustrator, editor and award-winning reviewer who has been reviewing children’s books for nearly thirty years. She has also worked as a secondary school teacher, a librarian, a university lecturer and a Hansard editor at Federal Parliament. Stephanie co-edited The Inside Story: Creating Children’s Books (1987) and was the editor of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s journal Reading Time. Her historical novel Lost! A True Tale from the Bush (2009) was shortlisted in the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards in 2010, while Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (2011) won the New South Wales Premier’s History Award in 2012. Her picture book I’ve Got a Feeling! (2010) was an International Board on Books for Young People Outstanding Book in 2011. Her latest book for children is Dance Like a Pirate (2013).