The wind blew, the rain swept.
Two brave boys crept into the forest. Their names were Billy and Jack.
Palms stretched like huge umbrellas over their heads.
Trees, taller than giants, rose beside them.
Two young boys, Billy and Jack, inhabit a book. They encounter Australian animals large and small and all seem as fascinated by the boys as the boys are with what they see. The pace escalates with each page-turn, each new animal-type. The boys encounter bats, pythons, spiders and more in their journey through the bush. Excitement and fear in equal measure accompany each ‘page turn’, until the boys fall through a cloud of butterflies into their beds, where they are reading the book of their adventure. Immediately they want to begin again. Illustrations are watercolour and a combination of vignettes and full colour spreads. The bush is dense and lush, the landscape rich, the animals curious and surprised.
Between the Pages imagines an exciting life, if the reader could actually, rather than metaphorically, be immersed in a story. The two young characters are wide-eyed and enthusiastic as they discover the animals who inhabit the pages. They don’t know all about each animal, and decide that observing from a distance is safer than staying in any one opening. They carry with them a book, which only at the end is revealed as being the book they have entered. As the pace increases, text becomes more spare, until they explode back into ‘reality’ via butterflies. Although they seem to be in pajamas, it may be that this is a morning book, encouraging flights of fancy rather than a bedtime book! Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.
Between the Pages, Joan van Loon ill Chantal Stewart
New Frontier Publishing 2013
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.