Friday, October 5, 2012

A new Margaret Mahy Picture Book

Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Gavin Bishop

Mr Whistler wakes up with a song and dance in his head. When his Great-Aunt Lydia Whistler pleads for him to clean his windows - he sighs. He would rather sing and dance but he does what his Aunt wishes. He dresses for his journey and waits at the station for the train. But alas he has lost his ticket...

Children will delight in shouting where the ticket is and parents will identify with the forgetfulness. It is more of Margaret Mahy's magical madness; quirky people doing crazy things.  It is a story that children and adults will enjoy.  You will find Margaret's wonderful imagery: "something flew out from beneath his teeth and fluttered like a butterfly to the gound" and "His ticket flapped like a mad moth..." The words break into a rhythm of an approaching train: "Into his Trousers! Quickly! Quickly! Into his shirt. Quickly! Quickly!"

Gavin's artwork is a departure from his usual style. There are more pastel colours and use of water colour blotching in the background but you'll also find his familiar patterned lines, including symmetrical borders on walls and gardens, and musical notes meandering across the page. On some pages movement is shown with the main character in various stages of dress. I love the way Gavin has captured the dancer's legwork. Gecko Press have produced it as a large hardback book with jacket and patterned endpapers. The end product is utterly gorgeous. It is now my favourite book from the collection of Margaret Mahy and Gavin Bishop picture books I own.

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