You’re strong with me
You’re strong with me
Chitra Soundar, illus. Poonam Mistry. London: Lantana, hb, 9 781 9113 7375 9, 2019, £11.99, 34pp.
Picture book, 5-8 years
The baby giraffe is very young and the world is a new exciting place to be explored, but frightening as well. Luckily mother is there to support and encourage. “You’re strong with me”, she reassures her little one.
Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry are now very much a partnership and this picture book adds to the previous two, following the same template. Here we are in Africa, a world rich in wildlife, experiences and potential danger especially for a newborn. Chitra’s gentle text follows the little giraffe as she explores the landscape around her learning which animals may be her friends, which are to be feared. Through her encounters and questions, young readers will learn about the African savannah, the environment through which the giraffe stalk gracefully. They will learn about the cooperation between species, the threats to their habitat, the beauty that surrounds them.
Poonam’s lush, decorative illustrations that draw on traditional Indian designs, reflect both the quiet nature of the text and the exotic landscape of Africa. She takes the golden ochres of the sun- burnt grass and vegetation as her dominant colour scheme, the heat shimmering off the page, a dramatic contrast to the blues of a river crossed by a herd of zebra, a contrast that emphasises the importance of water to this world.
This is another lovely creation in which text and illustration work together with a clear font style that stands out from the decorative background. However, despite the temptation to see this as designed for very young children, it is really one that is more appropriate for an older audience who will find the intricate art work intriguing and easier to decipher. Nor should it just be seen as a picture book. This would be an excellent addition to lessons both on the environment and on Africa. Indeed, it would be a valuable addition in senior schools as inspiration for what illustration and design can achieve.
Review by FMH