Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Made by Raffi

Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
HB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781847804334
Reviewed by J Wishart

This cheerful picture book was written by American singer/actor Craig Pomranz, teaming up with British illustrator Margaret Chamberlain. The author’s first book, it was inspired by his godson. Made by Raffi was published in the US and UK in 2014.

The story centres on Raffi, a quiet, thoughtful boy who prefers creative endeavours over boisterous playground games. Although this means Raffi is often teased by the other children, he doesn’t let it stop him. Eventually his perseverance is rewarded by opportunity – to which Raffi responds with flying colours, literally and figuratively.

Chamberlain has depicted Raffi’s days with simple, cartoon-like drawings featuring familiar scenes of school and home. The artwork is mostly lively double-page spreads, with a few close-up moments focused on Raffi and his thoughts.

The narrative pace is steady and the tone optimistic. In addition to the main story text, Raffi sometimes speaks via speech bubbles which lend a fun and friendly feel that may also help to engage younger readers.

Although the book touches on themes of individuality and acceptance, they are given a fairly light treatment. The book’s message seems more about ingenuity and the joy of making things. Raffi will appeal to children as it acknowledges and applauds the (child) creator, and even contains elements of instruction to inspire the reader.

The decorative end-papers are a nice touch, featuring a range of inventive garments and speaking of the endless possibilities for anyone with determination and an open, creative mind.


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