Sunday, 17 October 2010

Shrieking Violet

Shrieking Violet written and illustrated by Emma Quay (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $26.99
ISBN 9781741695687
Recommended for 3+ years.
Reviewed by Dawn Meredith.

I love, love, love this book! Emma is a keen observer of children, capturing beautifully the dysfunctional relationship between two sisters -the naughty, pesky, attention-seeking younger toddler, Violet and her elder, tolerant sister who remains unnamed, (despite insisting the book is actually about her) and who just wants to share something with the reader. The immediacy and intimacy of the telling is striking. Quay’s use of language, in first person, keeps us with the elder sister (I wish we knew her name! Argh!) as she describes a typical day at home with Mum. Violet is shown in various poses, notably flinging herself on the floor when she isn’t the centre of attention. “Oh, and that’s Violet,” explains Big Sister.

The tension builds nicely until even Violet’s tolerant sister blows up, shouting, “VIOLET ALWAYS RUINS EVERYTHING!” At this point we begin to feel something of Violet’s frustration at being little, non-verbal and incapable of everything her elder sister can do. Of course Quay gently lets us down again as Violet wordlessly extends a gift to her sister – a bunch of tissues she has collected after strewing them all over the floor. Poor Violet! Then Big Sister comes up with an idea for Violet to play a tree, which she does brilliantly.

I love Quay’s use of colour and the patterned backgrounds, in complimentary purples and soft yellows, do not detract from the action. There is plenty of movement through the pages as we follow along, waiting to see what mischief Violet will get up to next. My favourite would have to be the painting scene, where Big Sister has made a cat out of a paper bag and Violet has made an impression of her bottom, in violet paint, on a sheet of paper on the floor.

I can see this book becoming a favourite of children and bringing a smile to the faces of their parents.

Dawn Meredith writes from the Blue Mountains and is a recipient of a May Gibbs Fellowship for 2010. You can see photos from her recent writing workshops for kids:  www.dawnmeredithauthor.blogspot.com

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