Monday 13 April 2015

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants by Susan Whelan, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones (EK Books imprint of Exisle Publishing)
HC RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781921966699

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

‘Sometimes Sophie worried.’ That opening sentence immediately had me questioning; what does she worry about and why? I had to find out.

Sophie is a thinker. While she is busy, she thinks about the games she plays, and all that she’s currently occupied with. But in the still of the night when activity stops, she begins to worry. She worries about every what if…? she can think of. Sleep stays away from all the questions clogging her mind. Her days are frequently sluggish and unproductive due to her restless nights.

Despite all the family trying hard to help Sophie, nothing changes behind her closed eyes. She continues to worry until her mother gives her something else to think about.

 Susan Whelan is a writer, Managing Editor of Kids Book Review, and a ‘passionate advocate for children’s literature.’ Her publishing debut is impressive. She approaches the theme of worry in an imaginative and sensitive way.

Gwynneth Jones gives Whelan’s text a detailed and insightful translation in media of ink pen, colour pencil and gouache. Her vivid, visual portrayal of the text is highly individual. While keeping the expressions on the faces of the children authentic, she has created them in a more simplistic form than those of the adults. Sophie and what she is doing, thinking, and feeling is always the main focus.

I love the fact that the cat, or some part of it, is used on many of the pages. It’s like a game of seek-and-find in addition to the main story. The same device applies to hands (and paws). They appear without the rest of the body, expressing something of their own (or perhaps simply as part of a game). This has quite a fantastic effect on the whole presentation; a stand-out factor. With its stunning cover and delightful end pages, this captivating production can easily be used as a resource for children and adults to explore this theme together.

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