Seen and Not Heard – book review

By Katie May Green

Published by Walker Books ISBN-13: 978-1406346510

Review by Flora Cox

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Inspired by a visit to a museum and a old portrait of four children, Seen and Not Heard is the first picture book from Katie May Green, an MA graduate from the Cambridge School of Art.

The hardback opens with an intriguing image of a doorway to Shiverhawk Hall and sets the scene for the story. The narrative is based on the ongoing children’s belief that inanimate objects come to life at night, somewhat Toy Story-esque. Lily Pinksweet, Percy Pinksweet, Billy Fitzbillian III, Prudence, Peter and Pearl Plumsey and Lila and Vila De Villechild are the children of Shiverhawk Hall, ‘seen and not heard’.

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Their portraits are hung on the nursery wall and once ‘the moon is high, when there’s no one to see them’ they creep out of their frames and act as any children would in a large house. All of the youngsters seem to cause havoc apart from two; Lila and Vila De Villechild. Their nature gives off a sense of unease and angst as they are quietly placed in each scene, somewhat lifeless and ghoulish. However, towards the end Lila reveals a smile and this anxious disposition disappears completely.

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Carefully illustrated, the book’s colour palette creates an atmosphere which you would only experience in a large, uninhabited, cobweb clad, period house. The layout of the spreads are simplistic and aids the reader to follow the tale with ease. The light pencil sketched areas focus the reader’s attention to the appropriate point. This and the rhythmical text create a delightful read throughout.

All in all, a comforting read before bedtime where children can imagine their bedroom coming to life.

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28th October 2014
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