The Curiosities, written by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Phil Lesnie
This picture book is a work of art, from the lyrical text, to the stunning and evocative illustrations. I love a multi-layered picture book that can be read on many different levels - and this is definitely one of those books. It embraces and celebrates both the rich imagination of the young child, as well as diversity and differences.
We follow the story of a boy named Miro, who comes to realise that he sees and experiences the world differently to others around him. Surrounded by the brightness and noise of the curiosities, he can see hidden wonders in the shadows and the places that no one else ever thinks to look. But sometimes the Curiosities can be too loud and overwhelming, can make people stare at him or look away. It is only when Miro is able to take hold of the threads of knowing, that he comes to understand that he is not alone, and he is able to follow the threads out of the dark back to the light. It is here that he realises others have Curiosities and different ways of seeing and knowing the world just as he does.
There is light and shade both in the narrative and the illustrations. Through this book the reader is shown a world of wonder and light and fantastical light-filled creatures that show a path through the darkness. But contrasting with this is the way in which the creatures can be too bright, too loud, too overwhelming. The way they can pull Miro into shadows and darkness.
I love the way diversity is explored and celebrated in a gentle, lyrical way in this book. The text often reads like poetry, inviting us to stop and reread sentences so we can savour the richness of the language. The exquisite digitally created illustrations are full of light and shade. The Curiosities are presented as bright ghost-like shapes against the darker background colours of their environment. Each page is designed to evoke an emotive response from the viewer, with Phil Lesnie commenting in the notes section that he chose to base his illustrations on Filipino folklore.
Zana Fraillon has commented in the notes section that she has based this book on her experience of having a child with Tourette syndrome. We are gently encouraged to embrace our own and others differences, and take pride in who we are. The narrative also explores the way in which neurodiversity can lead to enhanced creativity and understanding.
Highly recommended for lower through to upper primary school and beyond.
We were gifted this book as part of the Hachette Kids readalong, but opinions expressed are our own.
Published by Hachette Children's Books