Sunday 28 October 2018

Sukie’s Suitcase

Sukie’s Suitcase by Jordie Albiston, illustrations Keira de Hoog (Little Barrow Press) PB RRP $15.00 ISBN 9780992584511

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sub-titled ‘Three picture-poems’, this book for children 8 to 12 years is essentially a three-story verse novel. The title story begins with the words ‘Sukie was running away from her life’ -- even though her life was not ‘all that bad’. Having packed her suitcase she walks a long distance during which time she loses her bag. Happily, she discovered objects which she’s lost. Good news is that they lead back home where she lives happily ever after.

The first story in the book is narrated by Felipe, new to Australia from South America. He can’t seem to fit in and is homesick for Bogota as nothing in this new country compares. Sitting under a tree he is hit by what he describes as ‘a leather lemon’: in fact, it’s a red football. When he meets a girl called Nikki, it seems he’s going to be fine after all.

The final story is ‘Three Steve Bikos’, narrated by Steve Biko who lives in Kenya. Like the other stories, this is a rambling tale of life in a foreign place with lots of details about Steve’s life and lots of telling.

This is likely to be a difficult book for the intended readership. There are many foreign words ((‘ajiaco’, ‘guasca’, ‘arepa’, for example), and there’s also a problem with the font (Just Alice) which is written over illustrations at times, making it difficult to read.
The illustrations are interesting and unusual with de Hoog employing many photos overlaid with sketches.

The author Jordie Albiston is highly regarded, both in Australia and overseas, for her poetry. This is her first book for children.

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