Friday, April 8, 2011

Children's Book Review, The Glasshouse

Children's Book Review
Children's Picture Book, The Glasshouse
Children's Book Review written by Susan Stephenson,

The Glasshouse is an intriguing children's picture book, written by Paul Collins, illustrated by Jo Thompson and published by Ford St (2010).
Clara lives in her balanced world where everything is perfect. Her glasshouse is free of bugs, her prized pumpkins free of blemishes. But then one day a boy walks into her life and slowly Clara realises that her world is not perfect at all. Her paranoia spreads and she loses all her customers. Finally, she must face up to the realisation that her world is not perfect, and she must make allowances and compromise if she is to survive.
Although I've reviewed other Paul Collins books, this is the first children's picture book I've read by this versatile Australian author. In The Glasshouse, Collins writes a thought-provoking story about an unusual character, Clara. It's a little like a modern fairy tale or fable, but one where we need to decide for ourselves exactly what happens in the end.

This is not your average children's picture book. I would suggest The Glasshouse for primary school aged readers. It's the sort of book teachers will choose as the basis for discussions about issues like friendship, perfectionism, debilitating fears, and even environmental studies with kids. If you have a child who's a perfectionist, this book makes a fine choice for starting a discussion about the fact that perfection is not always the answer.

The illustrations are special. I really like the way Thompson has not only underlined the story, but also added another visual layer for us to think about. For example, her use of focus/blurring accentuates Clara's aloneness and separation from the outside world, and the last three pages have no text at all, yet finish the tale in an immensely satisfying way.

You can find out more about The Glasshouse via this animated book trailer.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook via the Table of Contents.
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