05 July 2009

My Baby Love

by Meredith Costain. Illustrated by Beatriz Martin Vidal
Hachette Children’s Books. Picture, Book, Australian. Hardcover rrp $29.99

Where to begin? Word or pictures? This is a finely balanced book where text and illustration take it in turn to lead the reader through a celebration of motherhood.

The cover is a striking background of pink with a white tree and small green birds. Overlaid in a thick almost rice paper style transparency, is an image of mother and child, leaning comfortable into a branch of the tree. It’s beautiful and I opened the book with great expectation.

I was greeted by the child of the morning, lifted on origami crane wings, towards the mother’s arms. On the following page the world turned yellow, balloons carried the child aloft to play. The blue of bath time and bubbles followed:

Splash with me, my baby wish,
My slippery, slithery, soap-bubbled fish.
One two three-ee.

As the day progresses, not only the colour of the scene changes but also the physical depiction of the mother and child. Each page feels special and a little exotic – almost Japan, almost Africa, almost Nordic – but always every mother and child. The illustrations emphasise the universality of the text.

The rhymes are gentle, filled with the love and affection shared by mother and child. Read aloud at bedtime, this book is a reinforcement of the loving bond binding the day together. And finally it is time for the child to sleep. Here the match of colour to mood and time of day is my favourite. The child drifts off into a welcoming world of grey green shadows.

Can I sum this book up in three words? Yes, that’s easy.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Costain’s A Year in Girl Hell: Crushed was reviewed in Issue 19.


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