On a Small Island by Kyle Hughes-Odgers (Fremantle Press)HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin
On a small island, in a gigantic sea, lives Ari. Ari longs for the large ships to stop at his island, he longs to see remarkable things and to have interesting friends. On a small island, in a gigantic sea, Ari has an idea. A dazzling idea. An irresistible idea …
This is a joyful and thought -provoking picture book (the best kind!), and it’s perfectly accompanied by wonderfully unique illustrations. Hughes-Odgers is an acclaimed Australian visual artist based in New York.
The first thing that grabbed me was the colour palette chosen for the illustrations. Cool blues and greens blended with the warmth of reds and ochre. They’re just beautiful colours and his choice of line and texture is just as interesting to look at. There’s something old fashioned about the illustrative style, it reminds me of my grandmothers art deco wallpaper that she had in her kitchen; all those shapes and triangles and patterns.
But Hughes-Odgers style is much more modern and edgy than that. It’s quirky and unusual and there is so much to see in the illustrative detail.The language is rich and enjoyable to read with an entirely satisfying ending. There is a healthy message to children: be the person you want to be and people will come to you.
Apparently, Hughes-Odgers wrote this story in a café in New York where was reflecting on the fact that you don’t have to leave home to be creative – you can use your creativity to attract people to your home instead.
On a small Island is definitely a book to take your time with, to pour over and to re-read multiple times, as you’ll always pick up something new in it. I highly recommend it.
Fremantle Press also has some terrific Teaching Resources that support this book in the classroom www.fremantlepress.com.au
Neridah McMullin is the author of five books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called Kick it to Me! It’s an ‘Aussie rules’ story endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy). www.neridahmcmullin.com