Cloud Forest

Cloud Forest
Victoria Turnbull
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

This is an absolutely beautiful, gentle but powerful story of love and of loss.

Umpa’s garden is the young child narrator’s favourite place, filled as it is with flowers and fruit trees. Umpa shows his grandchild how to plant seeds and watch them grow. He also plants stories in her mind, stories of imagined worlds – wonderful new places they can travel to together; places that, fuelled by the imagination can stay with you forever.

Time passes; Umpa grows older

and eventually he dies.

His distraught grandchild grieves, “The clouds had swallowed me whole’ she tells us.

Then one day, she remembers: his legacy lives on …

and he will always be there in her heart and in her memories of those treasured experiences they shared together.

Books and stories have transformative powers: Victoria’s new book is a wonderful reminder of that, showing some of the myriad ways those powers can help to heal, to bond people together, as well as to fuel the imagination. The softness of the story is evoked in her beautiful pastel colour palette, her graceful lines and the fluidity of her images. Do spend time on every spread; there is so much to see and feel.

A book to share and to cherish.

Pandora

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Pandora
Victoria Turnbull
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
I have to admit to doing a little dance when I saw this. I’ve loved all Victoria Turnbull’s books so far, but this one, with its tactile, satin, gold-sheened cover, is sublime. It takes picture book perfection to another level as it draws readers into Pandora’s lone world of broken things …

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where she spends her time collecting, mending and recycling whatever she can.
Into that world one day crashes a small creature. That too needs fixing, but Pandora’s mending skills are, she feels, inadequate. Clearly not her caring though, for she nurses it with tenderness …

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as it gradually gains strength and is able to fly once more. Pandora’s kindness is rewarded with small treasures …

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But then one day she is faced with an empty box.
The emotional turmoil this creates is as devastatingly heart-wrenching for the reader as for Pandora. Alone once more she nurses her broken heart and, as it slowly grows back together,

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other things start to grow in that box until one morning, the sun shines into her room drawing her outdoors to the best of all possible surprises …

 

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The spare text means that every turn of the page is part of an exquisite contemplative experience that has you in its thrall throughout Pandora’s highs and lows, as you linger to explore every delicate detail of this ultimately, uplifting, fable of transformation; for as Alexander Pope said, ‘Hope springs eternal …’

Kings of the Castle

DSCN7237 (800x600)Kings of the Castle
Victoria Turnbull
Templar Publishing
Victoria Turnbull set the bar astoundingly high with her debut picture book The Sea Tiger; but oh my goodness, she’s more than cleared it with this, her second book, which if possible, is even more enchantingly beautiful.
Once again, the sea features large in many of the scenes but this time, it’s seen from the shore. A night-time shore on which we meet George, a little monster with a whole lot of determination, when it comes to sandcastle building that is: he wants to build a sandcastle ‘that would turn any monster green eyed with envy …’ Boris, his friend is doggedly unhelpful …

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so much so that George is on the verge of abandoning his castle building when from the moonlit waves emerges this strange-looking creature …

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Introductions are something of a failure but thanks to Boris and a stick, the two begin to forge a friendship;

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and slowly and surely an amazing edifice is fashioned under the twinkling stars …

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It’s one- a veritable kingdom really – over which the friends reign supreme till dawn when the tide comes in, and as the sun rises, slowly subsides into the sea.
What now will be the fate of the friendship?
Brilliantly imagined and equally brilliantly executed, this night to day tale is truly heart-warming.

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The whole thing unfolds in a slow, gentle manner that is entirely in harmony with the gently rolling waves forming the backdrop; and one cannot help wishing that like the George/Nepo friendship, it could last forever. Victoria Turnbull’s paintings are rendered in a gorgeous colour palette that so perfectly captures the blues and greens of the moonlit sea, and gradually gives way to the glowing golden hues of the dawning day. Equally perfect is the way in which every turn of the page brings fresh delight, from expansive spreads to small comic strip style squares …

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and everything in between.  Awesome. Ahhhh!

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The Sea Tiger

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The Sea Tiger
Victoria Turnbull
Templar Publishing
There are echoes of Sendak in this glorious, painterly picture book from debut artist Victoria Turnbull and what a fantastic debut it is.
Right from the front endpapers we feel the pull of the ocean as it takes us the readers, along with the lone swimmer, down to its murky depths where we meet the Sea Tiger. He is merboy Oscar’s best and only friend and the narrator of this eloquent story.

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We follow them on a journey of exploration and adventure to magical places with flying trapezes,

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dizzying carousels and even the star-studded surface of the sea.

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But, as that wise tiger knows, he needs to loosen the ties of this all encompassing relationship so that Oscar can open himself up to the possibilities of new friendships.

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Discovery, inclusivity/exclusivity, loving and letting go are some of the themes of the story.
Every turn of the page brings visual wonders. The sepia, teal and tan tones are so seductive and somehow serve to imbue the whole thing with a dreamlike quality; one can almost feel oneself drifting gently through the ocean depths along with Oscar and the Sea Tiger.
Where will this exciting artist go next? I cannot wait to see.

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