I was first attracted to this children's picture book by the quality of the art work. There is so much life, colour and movement in Dee Huxley's pastel and coloured pencil drawings. You can almost hear the squeak of the sand under Uncle Tobias's tyres as he cycles along the sand.
You and Me: Our Place was written by Leonie Norrington and published by Working Title Press (Australia) in 2007. The quality of the text is as high as the artwork, and they complement each other beautifully.
The two young boys narrating the story give us an insight into both life in the olden days as it was for Uncle Tobias, and life nowadays for them. They seem to be part of a big extended family that spends a lot of time at the beach, fishing and looking for bush tucker. Much of what we learn in the story is understated, little glimpses into another's life.
I enjoyed many details of description in the story, a basket that "smells of salt and darkness", "flicky prawns in the net", Slim Dusty songs "on a three-stringed guitar." They instantly transported me to a fish feed I'd shared with Aboriginal friends near the Tweed River. It's wonderful when a children's picture can be so evocative of a time and place, that it allow us as readers to stand in another's footprints.
You and Me: Our Place would make an excellent resource for children studying multiculturalism. Kids could reflect on how lucky our generation is to be able to celebrate such cultural diversity. The book would lead very naturally to an investigation into bush tucker, what foods we eat that we find for ourselves rather than in the supermarket. Kids could try to identify the different marine creatures in the book or research mangrove habitats. The illustrations might spark an investigation into drawing with pastels and coloured pencils.
BOOK CHOOK ALERT: If your kids are interested in writing, take a look at this cool contest at author, Kim Chatel's site . Write a poem and draw a picture to win a music box and t-shirt made by this talented writer and artist. Contest ends January 31.