Friday, 29 March 2013

Bea


Bea by Christine Sharp (University of Queensland Press)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 978 0 7022 4961
Reviewed by Jo Antareau

This is a picture book about a yellow and pink bird, Bea, whose tastes are out of synch with the rest of her flock. She dances to disco beats, flies with the bats and eschews worms and ants in favour of baking her own treats (we never find out if she shares these with her companions). Illustrated with vibrant colours, the story is about embracing individuality and respecting choices.

Sharp has portrayed Bea’s ‘unusual tastes’ and the flock’s choices as being equal; the author does not presume that Bea’s actions make her in any way superior. Bea and her peers are all illustrated with zany pictures that makes every option look like fun. Indeed, it is easy to imagine children opting to play in puddles with the rest of the flock in preference to Bea’s taste for a bubble bath.

Whilst Bea is never bullied as a result of her actions, she always plays by herself. It is not referred to in the text, but the illustrations make it clear that the price of doing one’s own thing is doing it alone – although she does not seem to mind. That is, until a new character, her friend Bernie is introduced mid-way through the text.

She drives a bus across the country to meet up with him and together they sing to the moon and fly kites. They continue to joyfully embrace their own shared pleasures, ignoring what the others do for fun.

This heart-warming tale is author/ illustrator Christine Sharp’s first book.

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