The Story Thief – review

Written & illustrated by Graham Carter

Published by Anderson Press ISBN: 978 178344 892 0 

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster

Whatever you do, please don’t lose your book. If you do, you may have become a victim of the Story Thief! Olive, who lives by the shores of a small port town, loves books. She is a shy child and will only leave the house to borrow them from her Library in Craggy Bay. After Olive loses her latest Library book there begins a mystery that affects the whole town. Just what is going on? Olive resolves to find the answer.

Once again, I have the pleasure of reading a picture book by Graham Carter. Published by the excellent Andersen Press, The Story Thief reminds us of the importance of books and the stories that they share with us. It also reminds that Libraries do provide societies with the building blocks that stimulate life-long learning and our appreciation of culture.

Carter’s illustrations are vivid, sophisticated, cleverly constructed and describe a world that readers will want to pour over and linger upon the details. In his work he uses every opportunity to reveal surprises and gives the story three dimensions. His digital paintings are crisp and the colours pop out in all the right places. He has deftly employed a colour scheme that is rich and saturated with inky blues and vibrant greens. He handles the negative space skillfully and this is enhanced by his careful inclusion of silhouettes.

Octopus gets a taste for books, but he cannot work out what they are for. He tries hard to find out and attempts to wrangle his hoard into a coherent collection of items but he remains clueless. Once Octopus realizes his many errors thanks to Olive’s interventions it is up to them both to save the day and they do so in dramatic fashion.

I must bring your attention to the following spreads for special mention:

• The Octopus’ initial larceny after spying on Olive and her father then bounding over the rooftops.

• Olive descends to the depths like a fearless explorer after her daring pirate like sailing and effective detective work that leads her to Octopus’ home.

• When the magic that is locked inside stories is finally revealed to the Octopus in his watery abode.

• The final two full-page spreads when the Octopus and Olive reveal their schemes much to the delight of the residents of Craggy Bay who thought that they would never see their prized books again.

The underwater world is very hot right now in this medium, and it is important to stand out from the crowd in cases like these. Carter need not fear this, as the level of care and artistry on show in his picture book demands our attention.

13th August 2021

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