07 September 2009

Old Hu-Hu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Rachel Driscoll (Scholastic)

A treasure appeared in my mailbox today - Old Hu-hu written by the irrepressible Kyle Mewburn. If you've ever met him on an author visit you'll know he's full of life and bursting with enthusiasm for his chosen career of writing books for kids. On his website he talks about being inspired to write this book by the death of his cat. Even though she was very old and getting sick it was still very sad. He also thought a lot about his grandfathers who were always telling stories, and says that he thinks Old Hu-hu looks a bit like one of his grandads. Kyle thinks Rachel's illustrations are brilliant and I'm inclined to agree, though I always have an unquiet murmur in the back of my mind when I see animals with human characteristics (have you ever seen a hu-hu bug with a moustache?). But I'll forgive this as the overall emotion and depth of the book is taken to a new level with Rachel's beautifully crafted illustrations. Scholastic are one of the few publishers who include info about the media used for the illustration and design of their books (just look on the copyright page) and in this case they say 'Illustrations created in pencil, paint and tears'. A labour of love I'd say, from both the author and the illustrator. Also mentioned is the typeface used - it's called Old Hu-Hu and I'm guessing it was created specifically for this book. I'll check that out to confirm. Considering the subject matter of the story it is a book that requires sharing with an adult who can talk through any questions and emotions that might result from a book about death. There are not many books on this topic and I think it's been dealt with beautifully... with not a mention of God or Heaven in sight.

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