As Big As You, by Sara Acton

As Big As YouClaude was a large elephant.
Finlay was a small one.

Claude is so large that he can make the earth shake with his trumpets, shower a whole herd of elephants, and stomp like thunder. Finlay is little and can’t do any of those things. He can’t wait to be as a big as Claude. But when they become separated Finlay has a special adventure all of his own. When they are reunited, Claude tells Finlay that one day he will be big, too. But in the meantime there is no hurry to grow up.

As Big as You is a breathtaking book. The story is really heart warming and the message is a good one, but it is the visual feast offered by the illustrations and design of the book which make it really magic. With the spine at the top rather than the side, each spread is long (portrait rather than the usual landscape orientation), which enables Claude’s size and the vastness of the landscape to be emphasised. On the opening spread, Claude is so big that very little of him fits onto the spread – one leg, one ear, one eye and a trunk frame the page, with the void in the middle bearing the single sentence ‘Claude was a LARGE elephant.’ The next spread introduces Final, and has him at the bottom of the spread, eye to eye with two beetles, and the spread above him largely empty apart from three butterflies. The cleverness of this beginning is carried through the book with simple yet beautiful watercolour illustrations and attention to text layout.

This is a beautiful book.

As Big as You, by Sara Acton
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743629697

The Lost Girl, by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Leanne Tobin

The girl had lost her way.
She had wandered away from the Mothers,
the Aunties and the Grandmothers,
from the Fathers and the Uncles
and the Grandfathers.

When a young girl is lost in the bush, she is at first scared. But she stays calm, sheltering for the night to keep warm, finding water and bush food to fill her stomach and eventually following a crow that leaves her back to the camp-site, where she is warmly welcomed by her family. When her younger brother asks her how she coped, she acknowledges the help she was given by nature, ‘my mother.’

The Lost Girl is a lavish book celebrating indigenous culture and Australia’s natural environment, as well as the bond between the two. The story is gently told – young readers will fear for the girl, but visual clues form the start make it clear that she is no in danger. instead, she is surrounded by animals and plants which offer her company and protection.

The illustrations, painted in acrylic, use rich natural colours – ochres, greens, golds and silvery greys. The beauty of the scenery is well captured, as is the joy of both girl and family when they are reunited.

A beautiful offering for home or classroom.


The Lost Girl, by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Leanne Tobin
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781921529634

Available from good bookstores or online.