Sunday, 2 October 2016

Flight by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Armin Greder [Picture book]

By Nadia Wheatley
Illustrated by Armin Greder
A Helen Chamberlain Book
Windy Hollow Books, 2015

I listened to Nadia Wheatley talking about this book when she was in Auckland for the IBBY Congress recently, when she'd just had news that it had won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year for 2016. 

The book is sombre in image and message, and urgent too. A man, woman and baby are fleeing across the desert, at first bringing to mind the Nativity story, but then a rumbling invasion of tanks transported me to more modern times, to the many refugees in our modern world; this could be the story of any of those families desperately searching for safety. 

The narrative is simply told, making the seriousness of the story all the more stark. The grainy illustrations, I think done in charcoal and oil pastels, in greys, browns and a gentle yellow and one brief flare of red, emphasise the seriousness of their situation, and the need for the trio to hide away. In a final scene they are at a camp and we know there is no happy ending here. 

Click here to read a piece by Armin Greder about his illustrating of the book, where I was interested to read that he initially turned the manuscript down for this book, because he didn't think the text left enough room for him to be creative. Nadia obviously knew he was the perfect person to illustrate Flight and revised her text, when he then agreed to take on. 

Find out more about Nadia Wheatley on her website.
Armin Greder doesn't have a website, but there is some excellent background and information about other books he has illustrated, some of which he's also written, on the fabulous Playing by the Book blog.

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