Thursday 31 May 2012

Luke’s Way of Looking

Walker Classics: Luke’s Way of Looking by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Matt Ottley (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781921977725
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Reissued through Walker Classics, this is a poignant story with strong themes of a boy who sees the world differently and expresses it through his art. This causes him to be bullied and marginalized by his teacher and peers.

Being different makes Luke an outsider. He can’t explain why he paints things in a way the teacher can’t understand. His classmates mock him and he’s friendless and alone.

Luke decides not to go to school one day. He’s tired of being laughed at and having his brushes broken by his angry teacher. He takes the opposite road and stays on a bus that passes a building which looks different to other buildings from the outside.  When Luke goes in, he feels an immediate affinity with his abstract surroundings.  He wonders what his teacher would think if he could see the different interpretations and styles of painting and art creations. Luke recognizes a separate place where everything his eyes look upon is beautiful.

Overflowing with happiness, Luke sets off for home. The world around him seems changed. The revelation that there is a place where he belongs has made him a new person. He decides to go to afternoon classes. Nothing bad can touch him now. When Luke starts to paint his way, the teacher remains silent.

Matt Ottley has captured the essence of the text, and through his illustrations we can feel the emotions the boy and the teacher are feeling. Its colour-filled covers depict Luke joyously liberated and swinging from a tree branch amidst his abstract art. This was a CBCA Honour Book and is now another classic available again to a new audience of readers.

At the end of the book there is a full page summary of the story by Dr Robin Morrow, President of IBBY Australia. Following is a page each of biographical information on the writer and illustrator.

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