That’s Nice Love / Dare We Be Dragons?

That’s Nice, Love
Owen Gent
Book Island

We’ve all seen it many times and probably on occasion been guilty of what the adult in this book does when she accompanies her small child to the park. So distracted is the parent by her mobile that she fails to take a single scrap of notice of anything the excited child says about climbing the big tree.
As the boy ascends he has the most amazing adventures – or perhaps flights of fancy. First a multitude of butterflies dance before him as he gazes skywards; then comes an orchestral recital by a group of squirrels,

followed by a scary moment with snakes. To compensate for that though, a troop of monkeys crowns him king, he helps a super-sleek leopard and becomes its friend and finally, he flies with a bird. As he excitedly informs his parent of each event the child receives merely the response, ‘That’s nice, love.’

On the way home, the boy tells the parent that he sometimes feels distant despite their physical closeness and when the two eventually reach home, the child seems to have got through to the adult by revealing a few items he’s collected.
He’s then invited to regale the entire adventure again. Will that parent do what is promised on future excursions; I hope so …

Portable screens may seem amazing but are no match for the richness of a child’s imagination, stimulated by the wonders of the natural world that may be found in the branches of a single tree.
Owen Gent gives his imagination full rein in a series of sublime sequences that explore and expand the spare verbal narrative.

Also celebrating the imagination is

Dare We Be Dragons?
Barry Falls
Farshore

As a father prepares to bid his daughter goodnight, he embarks on an exciting sequence of flights of fancy, each of which arises out of seemingly ordinary everyday things or events. For when these two go adventuring together even such things as a grassy hill walk becomes a huge erupting volcano, tree trunks morph into giants’ legs and a playground swing is the means for launching them on a moon flight and a sandy shore becomes a place whereon lions play.

There’s a sequence of spreads where Barry Falls splits each one into two : the verso shows the everyday reality and the recto, a show-stoppingly imagined fantasy that occupies the entire page drawing the reader right into the adventure.

Along with a wealth of wonderful worlds to explore so vividly shown, there is a more understated portrayal of the loving bond between parent and child. For this is a playful, supportive father who promises always to be there through the years that constitute that wonderful adventure called life; and so he says in the rhyming narrative that complements those splendidly spirited illustrations.

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