Monday 23 November 2020

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin
by Freya Blackwood (Harper Collins Children’s Books) PB HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 460 820393

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Freya Blackwood is an award-winning illustrator and author who creates charming picture books with endearing characters. The cover with the title The Unwilling Twin, along with the gorgeous rockpool illustration already establishes a cheeky sense of fun and grabs attention. The endpapers have colourful beach umbrellas that encourage the reader to find Jules and George. This is a picture book that cleverly uses the imprint and title pages to add more layers of meaning to the story with cute photos -- in frames -- of the twins. Before the story begins we already know the characters and are ready to dive into the story. The twins, Jules and George do everything together but eventually there’s a disagreement. I love the fact that George is a pig: this will surely appeal to child readers.


In the opening sentences we are introduced to Jules and George who do everything together. We are given a window into their activities where the text and watercolour illustrations simply and beautifully complement each other.  The simple sentences give the illustrations plenty of room for movement and play. The climax in the story is the visit to the beach. That’s when we learn George isn’t always the willing twin. The text in this book is so subtle that it allows the illustrations to really play and tell the story. The characters are delightful and lovable, each in their own way.


Freya Blackwood’s watercolour illustrations give a strong sense of character with both the facial expressions and the characters’ movements. She captures the roundness of a child’s and pig’s body, and the movements of their play perfectly. Perspective is used cleverly in all the right places. There is so much to do at the beach, and the illustrations depict this very well. The illustrations are such eye candy for the reader in this story.


The Unwilling Twin is a picture book for 3-8 years that captures the joys and challenges of sibling love and a beach outing delightfully. It is gently and joyfully told and captured. This picture book can be used both in a home or school setting and it will capture hearts.


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