Monday, 1 February 2021

Blue Flower

Blue Flower by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Gabriel Evans (Puffin Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781760894450

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sonya Hartnett is best known for her award-winning YA novels, so a picture book finds her in new territory. In this book, she writes about a small girl lacking in confidence who doesn’t want to go to school. She is shy about making friends; she’s not competent at physical pursuits, and she worries that in class she will go wrong. ‘Sometimes our teacher tells us something, and I don’t know what she means.’ She waits in the playground hoping her mother will come past in the car, but she doesn’t appear. She asks Mum if she can stay home, but the answer is always ‘no.’ The only thing she appears to be good at is art. ‘When I draw pictures, everyone gathers around.’

The girl gains comfort from her cat, Piccolo with whom she sits in the grass watching birds. She discovers a few blue flowers among a field of yellow, and plucks one, saying, ‘This flower isn’t yellow, but that’s good, isn’t it? No-one wants everything to be the same. Things being different is what makes the world so wonderful.’ This epiphany makes her realise she is different, but that’s acceptable.

The gentle black pencil, water-coloured illustrations of children are worth poring over: the face and body of every child in the playground and in the classroom are expressive and distinctive. Evans is known internationally for his illustrations and is the right fit for Hartnett's book.

This story about the discovery that being different can be something wonderful is suitable for readers aged 5+ years.

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