Friday 24 July 2020

Mamma Ocean

Mamma Ocean by Jane Jolly and Sally Heinrick, (Midnight Sun Publishing), September, 2020, HB RRP $29.99
ISBN: 9781925227659

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Mama Ocean is a picture book that gives a voice, and a heart and soul to the ocean. Mama Ocean is a character with great sparkling beauty. She rules her world but is powerless to outside forces. Her children bestow gifts to Mama but these only cause Mama sadness and distress. For Mama is the lungs of the ocean and her tears are our tears, for her gifts are rubbish.
Jane Jolly’s poetic writing has such an emotive pull with its evocative simplicity, strong verbs and alliteration, for example, ‘The creatures stared at her. Distressed.’ Her words sweep and swirl just like the ocean’s currents and the short sentences have punch and panache. The creatures of the ocean are Mama’s children. Their gifts to Mamma to make her well are found in the swirling, bobbing ocean currents. When this doesn’t work, the children must use their own powers to save Mamma Ocean. Jane Jolly’s writing empowers the reader to think.

Sally Heinrich’s swirling lines, patterning and colour choices create a mesmerising visual narrative that enchants. She creates lots of movement, uses fine detail with her linework and captures the reader with her characterisation. The wordless double page spread is a powerful visual environmental message as the spread of the rubbish is laid out bare for all to see. Heinrich’s illustrations are a perfect fit for Jolly’s words. The watercolours of blues and greens with pops of colour for the sea creatures give the story a mythical appeal that showcases the ocean and its creatures and as the rubbish builds up the water darkens, and Mama suffocates.

Mama Ocean is a picture book that has been created by the same team that created One Step at a Time, a CBCA Honour Book, and Pappa Sky, a CBCA notable book. This is a dynamic combination of master storytellers. Mama Ocean is a stunning book that’s suitable for children in primary school from Kindergarten to Year 6. It fits beautifully into the school curriculum

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