13 October 2010

The Glasshouse

by Paul Collins, illustrated by Jo Thompson

Ford Street Publishing. Australian, Picture Book. Hardback rrp $26.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

The Glasshouse is a treasure for everyone. Preschoolers will be drawn to Jo Thompson’s vibrant colours and the stark contrast between pages. Middle Primary students will revel in their ability to read with minimal assistance. Teenagers will recognise Clara’s determination to keep control and her anguish at facing the unknown. Adults will have to line up for their chance to ponder parallels with the modern world. What are the pumpkins in your life?

Multiple messages wait between the pages. Is Clara really worried about her pumpkins? Her hair colour mirrors the hues of her beloved produce so closely that I’m inclined to think her fears are much closer to her heart. Can she ever break free? What will it take? Does she have to destroy the glasshouse to escape her worries?

We all have glasshouses we hide in and pumpkins we try to protect. The Glasshouse helps me see what will happen if I let worries take over. Is Clara obsessive compulsive? Does she have an anxiety disorder? Perhaps she’s just hit a rough patch. We all go through times when we can’t make things happen the way we want. How can we break free?

The Glasshouse echoes in my mind long after the last page. Can you let your pumpkins go? I’m trying, but I need Clara to keep reminding me how it is done.

The Reading Stack had Paul Collins as a guest blogger in February 2010 and have reviewed The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler in December 2009.

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