Written & Illustrated by Grace Easton
Published by Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN: 978-1-78603-031-3
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
Main character Coralie is centre stage on the bright, inviting cover, with its decorative embossed features and dynamic diagonals. This is a practical design for a book meant for children of two and older. The striped end papers contain a delightful narrative involving Coralie and Lion.
Coralie lives alone in a light and friendly wood. In her home she occupies herself by practicing various tasks, living a life free from rules. Despite this freedom she wants more excitement.
One day she sees a troupe of circus performers along with a friendly Lion parade through her wood. This event offers her some hope but she misjudges the man in the Big Hat. To her credit Coralie is resilient and doesn’t give up on her chance of becoming part of the action. It’s this determination that leads to a strong bond between her and Lion.
Put to work by the man in the Big Hat, Coralie joins the circus. However, he is a task master and things don’t go as well as she expects, he wants her to do something risky!
Set in Futura (my favourite font) with delicately hand-lettered additions author Easton draws upon familiar motifs from the circus, the greasepaint, the animals and the roar of the crowd – all the thrills of the circus. Her illustrations are bright, simple and subtle. Facial expressions are minimal but expressive. She has created bold spreads with just the right amount of texture to add interest to the shapes depicted in a warm palette. The powerful diagonals are employed to good effect once we move inside the Big Top.
Lion’s ‘Roar!’ is cleverly designed to indicate a range of emotions and statements. Lions are strong totemic characters found in many picture books and we are drawn to the one we encounter in this book, just as Coralie is. The direction of this story is the natural outcome when people are pushed too far. Proving there is always strength in numbers if you have solidarity when you encounter a bully, Coralie learns to stand up for herself and finds a family at last.