I love books that engage me, both visually and imaginatively. Perhaps that is why, as an adult, I still see the beauty of picture books alongside those with no pictures at all. When authors of more adult titles include little sketches on random pages or themed chapter headings it adds something very special and unique to the story. Picture book authors and illustrators no doubt find it a continual challenge, albeit and exciting one, to find new ways in which to engage the reader in the story they are telling.
Peely Wally a new title from Kali Stileman (Red Fox, ISBN 9781849410823) manages to do just this. How? By enticing the reader in with the tempting suggestion that they ‘Follow the dotted line and see where it goes.’ The trouble then is does one follow the line, read the story or do both? It is a good challenge for young readers and encourages considerable engagement with the story. The bright, simple and child-like paintings that fill the pages of the book yet show Stileman is clearly not afraid of white space, help to tell the story of Peely Wally and her adventurous egg! When Peely Wally lays her small, spotty and perfect egg it is in for a big adventure and the reader, when they turn to the end is in line for a wonderful surprise. A clever story, simple, engaging, colourful and with a captivating technique for engaging the reader.
On the other hand Rachel Bright lives up to her name with her third picture book for Puffin. Mine! (ISBN 9780141332130) Not only does she fill each page with a block of colour, differing for each double page spread but this is then covered with some fantastically bright and colourful pictures of the characters and their story. The text is fun, moving about the page, encouraging the reader to follow it around whilst they follow the story. So to the story which finds the twins Frankie and Fifi arguing over Funny Bunny for they are two and he is only one. This is a wonderful story which explains the importance of grandmothers, oh and of course sharing!