Saturday 18 February 2017

Timing the Machine

Timing the Machine by Gary Crew, illustrated by Paul O’Sullivan (Harbour Publishing House) HB RRP 24.99    ISBN 9781922134530                                                                         
Reviewed by Allison Paterson

Where is H.G. Wells’ legendary Time Machine? Still travelling into the past, the future, or lost somewhere in the here and now?
Will Enoch find out?
Take the journey with him.

Based on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895), this is a picture book of intrigue from Gary Crew and Paul O’Sullivan, the creators of the thought-provoking The Visions of Ichabod X

Upon a class visit to the museum, Enoch ignores the final closing message and chooses to explore the chambers revealed by the towering, broken doors through which he alone has entered. A shadowy creature is lurking and Enoch, dazed from a fall, remains unaware of its presence as he follows the light to what he thinks will be safety. Ultimately, it leads him to an astounding discovery. Framing the mysterious and captivating narrative are quotes from The Time Machine which combine with an intriguing, somewhat menacing extra-terrestrial element.

Illustrated in steampunk style using pencil and digital colour, the images enhance the text and ask many questions of the perceptive reader. The layout features a range of techniques from sparse text to double-page spreads and filmstrip frames which are in keeping with the projector image on the title page. The fascinating use of light and shadow adds to the mysterious tone, including a moment when light falling on the boy’s face reveals cat-like pupils which later return to their human form. The clever endpapers feature Queensland’s Glasshouse Mountains and are not to be missed!

As we expect from Gary Crew, the reader arrives at an inclusive ending with questions begging to be answered. Timing the Machine is both a mesmerising and thought-provoking picture book for older readers.

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