Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Boy On The Page

The Boy On The Page written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas (New Frontier Publishing)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN – 9781921928468
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

‘One quiet morning, a small boy landed on the page.’  This story’s opening is as captivating as the image of that small boy landing all alone in all that white space. Instantly drawn into this unnamed character’s world I travelled alongside him as pages turned and black pencil combined with watercolour, unfolding his life. His time is filled with the mundane as well as the magical and, because of this, that small boy represents every one of us.

Carnavas has created a perfect balance between the whimsy and humour found in the visual and the written deep life question of why we are here and what life is all about. At first, being so young, the boy observes what is around him. As he grows he embraces life all the more. He gardens, rides horses, paddles canoes, catches fish, plays in a band. He grows up to climb mountains, fall in love, make a family, build a home, care for pets. He provides so much for so many others. Yet he’s still puzzled by one thought.

Trying to work out why he is here he jumps off the page! If you think kids won’t get the deeper aspects of this work, you’ll see that they do as the power of this moment hits home. Readers become immersed in stillness when they see the man’s two ever-present companions, a little bird and a piglet, confused and deflated in the far corner of a wordless double page white spread once he’s jumped off the page. Turning to the next page, however, satisfies readers and the man, as it answers his question.

How so? I’m glad you asked. The next spread shows the man has tumbled straight back, finding himself surrounded by ‘everything he had ever made, every animal he had ever cared for and every person he had ever loved.’ The realisation that we are all here to be loved and to love others right back is clear and this work is a masterpiece to be enjoyed at any and every age.

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