Illustrated and written by Marianne Dubuc
Published by Book Island ISBN 978-1-911496-04-5
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
This large hardback book is the sequel to Here Comes Mr Postmouse. A ballooning mouse family adorns the cover. It is clear an adventure is in progress. Things look promising. Dubuc has used the large format well, creating lively images that are carefully controlled to communicate part of her intended message; we travel to see new things and have new experiences. The Postmouse family is on a busman’s holiday of sorts, delivering parcels to friends and family as they travel. The illustrations are delightful, but it’s the text that needs more attention.
The story is simple enough, but the writing lacks sparkle and energy. The translation from Canadian French to English by Greet Pauwelijn could be the reason that the words don’t scan. There needs to be a rhythm within the writing as this aids reading aloud and is easier for children to memorise. The book is aimed at children aged 3 plus, however I would be surprised if it kept this age group engaged. The position of the text blocks blends in too much with the illustrations, gets lost and doesn’t encourage reading.
The Illustrations are entertainingly filled with quirky details that will delight the reader. Illustrations of plants, buildings and landscapes in cross-section work particularly well. There are some nice meta-references too: King Kong on the island, the dragon inside a volcano, the opera Diva on the Ship and the Jungle scene. The colour palette is limited showing large areas of sky, water and grass which really helps the composition of the pages. The visual style and technique bring to mind the work of Laurent de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the Elephant, and the busy energy with bizarre characters is reminiscent of the work of Richard Scarry.
Where this book falls short is in the relationship between text and image. A picture book works as pure image for young children with the text adding to their knowledge once they can read it for themselves, this giving greater context and shape to the narrative. Maurice Sendak, a master of visual storytelling combined text and image to add layers of understanding to his work. Author Dubuc could benefit from focusing on this aspect of her work.
You may also be interested in these book reviews:
Fox & Goldfish
Here Comes Mr Postmouse