Friday, 22 January 2021

Shine

Shine by Danny Parker, illustrated by Ruth de Vos (Fremantle Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760990213

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Having six children can’t be easy on Mum or Dad, but this book’s illustrator, who has six children between the ages of 5 and 17, says that through her illustrations she wanted to share the beauty and chaos, the joys and blessings of having multiple children without pretending that it’s easy or smooth sailing. Thus, the double-page fly pages of this picture book show a wide range of chaotic family vignettes from parents playing with their children to children playing among themselves. All look as though they are having fun (and being noisy).

Shine is a love song between a parent and a child, celebrating the beauty and joy of everyday family life, through mess and daily routines. Shine is also a story that seeks to find the beauty in ordinary things- the wonder of a lazy afternoon, the joy of being together. It is an attempt to put words to that spark of connection that we have with each other.

In rhyming couplets such as the introductory, ‘In my lightning, you’re the light. /In my brightly, you’re the bright’, the reader gets an understanding of how family members (just like the reader’s own) interact with one another. In the first double page spread, typically Mum and Dad are asleep in bed, with two children and a baby crawling (and jumping) on the bed. There’s no rest for parents when kids are around!

In other illustrations there is lots of mess, some of which (upturned chairs, sheets) make good hiding spots. Mum gets to sit down for a moment with lots of clutter around her, to have a cup of tea. One page shows Dad and five children – it’s the first time all of them are together. Dad is trying to enjoy a glass of water but baby is crawling over him.

The illustrations really make this book. The children all look joyous no matter what they are doing, from bathing together to raiding the fridge at night. Ruth de Vos’ work as an internationally recognised textile artist, is demonstrated on some of the pages which have woven fabric in the background.

Recommended for readers 5+ years. 

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