Oliver was ready to play
but George was busy.
‘Finished yet?’ Oliver asked.
‘In a minute,’ said George.
Oliver wants to play, but George is busy reading a book. Oliver waits, and asks again, trying tactic after tactic, but still George reads. Oliver’s tactics are designed to provoke a response but George resists. Until, that is, Oliver swipes George’s book. Then George responds, but not in the way Oliver expects. The pair make their peace and George offers to play. But Oliver is not quite ready. Illustrations are watercolour set in plenty of white space for the reader to bring their own imagination. Endpapers reflect the pair’s individual and shared interests.
Oliver and George appear to have different natures. Oliver is active, while George can get lost in reading. Oliver’s increasingly active attempts to engage George, and George’s depiction as a bear allow the reader to access what’s happening without suggesting they copy the methods. They will appreciate the frustration of both characters at different points. The text is very simple, and writ large on the page and young readers will soon be ‘reading’ the words. Readers may see the two characters as siblings or as parent and child, or even boy and bear! Both characters want to be lost in imaginary worlds. The final image shows Oliver succumbing to the magic that entranced George, and becoming lost in a book. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.
Oliver and George, Peter Carnavas New Frontier Publishing 2014 ISBN: 9781925059083
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller