Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman

‘What is family?’ asked Tanglewood.
‘Family is love and friendship. Family is everything.’

Tanglewood is the only tree on a tiny island, and she is lonely. She calls to the dolphins, the seals and the birds to come and play with her, but they don’t, and Tanglewood thinks she might die of loneliness. Then, in the midst of a storm, a seagull falls into her branches, and Tanglewood shelters her. When Seagull leaves, to return to her family, Tanglewood is even more alone, having known the feeling of company, but she stays strong, because one day Seagull will return. When that day comes, Tanglewood gets a delightful surprise – not one seagull, but a whole flock, bearing the gift of life in the form of seeds.

Tanglewood is a breathtaking collaboration. Margaret Wild’s text is powerful, syaing enough but never too much and moving like a gentle stream from page to page. Read aloud, the words entrance. The illustrations are a mix of sizes, form double page spreads, to multiple panels on a page, as well as single panels and horizontal panels spanning the middle of spreads with text above and below. The might of the sea, the sparsity of the lonely island and the beauty of the gulls are all captured.

This is a charming, wrenching, gorgeous story.


Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman
Omnibus, 2012
ISBN 9781862915701

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Guess What? by Mem Fox

Reviewed by Tash Hughes

A beautifully illustrated and fun book for children of all ages.

The pictures are very Australian: the isolated, ramshackle farmhouse amongst brown bushes, the outhouse with graffiti and recognizable product labels such as Vegemite and Defender.

Guess What? is about a crazy lady called Daisy O’Grady, who is tall, wears a black dress, likes to fly at night and is, you guessed it, a cranky old witch. Both the story and the illustrations move slowly towards knowing Daisy better, until the final twist of the story.

There are few words per page, so the text is simple enough for young children, but the pictures are worth a long look and many discussions. Each page asks a question then tells the reader to “Guess!” the answer. It is actually answered on the next page; the predictability of all answers being yes adds to the excitement for children.

Each page of text is opposite its relevant illustration, which is clear and eye-catching. Most pictures have a focus that dominates, but all include incredible detail and realism that makes the book so delightful and approachable. It is by looking at the illustrations carefully that adults and older children will pick up some of the humour and reality of the book. For instance, a glance at her kitchen shows familiar packets of flour, tomato sauce, baked beans and spices. Reading labels will give a very different view of her cooking! As will a careful inspection of her recipe bookshelf.

Guess What?by Mem Fox, illustrated by Vivienne Goodman
Omnibus Books, 1988