The coat stood in a paddock at the end of a row of strawberries. It was buttoned up tight and stuffed full of straw and it was angry.
‘What a waste of me!’ it yelled to the sun and the sky and the crows and the paddock.
‘What an unbelievable waste!’
A coat abandoned to life as a scarecrow on a strawberry farm sees an opportunity for change when a down and out man passes by. The coat beckons the stranger over and soon the man, recognising the beauty and potential of the coat, is swooping and soaring on an adventure. Together they travel to Big Smoke where, in a cafe, the man discovers the amazing talents of the coat, and of himself, as they play and perform for an adoring audience.
The Coat is a treasure of a picture book, with the delightful quirkiness of a talking, talented coat and an exciting adventure and transformation for both man and coat. There are messages and subtexts aplenty – the value of friendship, finding hidden talents, belief of self and in others, and more, making this a text which could be used in the classroom across the year levels, but it also just a book to be treasured.
The text is presented as a script font, initially against sepia-hued backgrounds. there is no colour in the illustrations as both coat and man are dejected and see little purpose in their lives. Colour starts to seep in as man and coat soar towards Big Smoke with the performance scenes featuring rich washes of colour. The book as a whole has a big rich feel with the burgundy hues of the cover making it a volume you want to hug.
This is an adorable book.
The Coat, by Julie Hunt and Rob Brooks
Allen & Unwin, 2012
Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.