Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stunning Picture Book about Grief

Maia and What Matters, Tine Mortier and Kaatje Vermeire, Book Island Ltd

As well as being beautiful, this is a very brave picture book. It’s the latest offering from Book Island, who brought us Sir Mouse to the Rescue and Bernie and Flora. It was originally published in Belgium, and has been translated from the Flemish by David Colmer. Its extra-large size, sturdy hardback cover, and richly detailed cover picture make it stand out from the rest. Maia is a headstrong little miss, just like her grandmother. They make a good pair, running round and eating cake. But Grandma has a stroke (not stated, but obvious to the adult reader) and the little girl can’t understand why her grandmother has changed so much. She does her best to entertain Grandma - but when Grandpa dies an extra special effort is required from Maia... The illustrations are breathtaking. According to the blurb, the illustrator combines etching techniques with found materials such as lace, string and wire. The pictures are hard to describe - every one offers a panorama of people, portraits, backgrounds, motifs, and abstract design. Each one deserves to be studied and appreciated in its own right, and this book could easily be used in secondary-level art classes. I can see it being bought by families where a loved grandparent is ill or has died; and it will also be useful in libraries and primary-level classrooms to support studies of illness and loss.

ISBN 978 0 9876696 6 7 $29.99 Hb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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