A bear and a tree, written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Viking/Penguin Group, 2012
In A bear and a tree, a kind bear about to hibernate helps his friend Ren understand why a tree has lost its leaves. Seasonal changes and the passing of time are depicted largely through the illustrations. Gentle watercolour images reflect the soft, heartfelt narrative, and white space is utilised to highlight moments of action. Some double page, full frame spreads feature few or no words, allowing for quiet contemplation of Ren and Bear’s journey. A satisfactory resolution is reached when the bear helps Ren attach remnants of each season and their adventures to the tree, suggesting themes of team work, friendship, creativity and reassurance. This is a poignant story with a gentle strength, by one of my favourite author/illustrators.
The important things, written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas, New Frontier Publishing, 2010
The important things is the tale of Christopher and his mother, who are navigating the world together after the boy’s father has disappeared from their lives. Their sadness is depicted in their slumped bodies in front of a photograph featuring a faded image of the father positioned between the mother and the boy. When the mother decides they should take the father’s belongings to a second-hand store, she is mystified when they begin reappearing at home. This nostalgic tale uses a mix of sepia tones and bright colour for mood and emphasis, and suggests that what’s insignificant to some can have powerful meaning for others.
Picture book love is a series of short picture book reviews, spanning old favourites on high rotation in our house, to newer releases/future classics.
The Tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr (William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1968)
One day, young Sophie is visited by a tiger who eats and drinks everything in her house. Sophie and her parents are left with nothing, so head out to a café for dinner. They buy groceries in case the tiger returns, ‘But he never did’. The tiger could be seen as threatening, however this is countered by his impeccable manners and affection with Sophie. Sophie appears a trusting character, implied by illustrations of her offering cakes to the tiger, and clutching a tin of tiger food anticipating his return. The imagination and innocence of childhood is portrayed in this timeless classic that remains in print almost fifty years after publication.
More: Judith Kerr and the story behind The tiger who came to tea