Monday 21 March 2022

When You’re Older

When You’re Older by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Judy Watson (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781760291341

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

A boy wants to play with his baby brother, but his mother says that he must wait until the baby is bigger. So, the boy decides to tell his brother about all the adventures they will have ‘when you’re older’. They’ll ride bikes and build sandcastles; later, they’ll ‘take the wooden boat out on the ocean’ and discover a snowy shore. There’s no need to worry about storms when they’re at sea: if one of them falls into the ‘icy, churning water’, the other will be there to lend a helping hand.

Kids aged four to eight who have a younger sibling will relate to Sofie Laguna’s dreamy narrative, as they wait (not always patiently) for the day when they can connect meaningfully with the other child. The power of the imagination comes to the fore as the protagonist envisions leading his brother on an expedition into the wide, wild world – with not a single electronic device to be seen. When potential tragedy strikes, the bond between the brothers is strengthened … and the reader knows that this familial link will never be broken.

Judy Watson’s dynamic illustrations are brimming with brilliant colour, and youngsters are soon immersed in the physical and emotional journey. Small eyes will rake the pages for every last detail – from the chip-pinching crabs to the map-wielding pirate skeleton – and they’ll dig up a wealth of natural wonders along the way. The stormy ocean spreads are particularly striking – you can almost feel the movement of the roiling waves.

Eye-catching and evocative, When You’re Older exalts the significance of shared experiences and fraternal ties. It is a promise to readers that a special relationship is growing, and it will soon bear fruit.

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