Varmints (pt. 1)
Helen Ward and Marc Craste
Docking, Templar, 2007
I haven't blogged about a picture book before! I stumbled across this one because my sister is reading it for her PGCE, so I thank her for letting me borrow this.
Varmints is a dystopian tale of the world without life and light. It begins with large, beautiful images of bright blue skies and wide fields, with moles living throughout, tending their bees. But then a darker world is developed, tall buildings blocking the light and heavy noises stopping people from being able to think properly. The pages go from light and inviting to dark and terrifying - you can hardly read the words on the page. So one of the moles thinks it is time for a change, and sets out to bring back the life.
The images in this picture book are engrossing and mesmerising, like artwork you'd be proud to hang around your home. I'm afraid that copyright law does not allow me to copy the pictures here, so you'll have to find it and read it. And here's a lovely video to demonstrate some of the visuals:
The story is tragicly beautiful, with a pace so slow and measured it entices you. It is powerfully visual, with few words on each page but so much bold and deep art to keep your eyes from wandering. And the tale has a moral, reminding the reader of the importance of nature and life.
Perhaps for young readers, the font is rather difficult to read. The language is not very complicated, but the words are written in thin, scratchy type, and is especially hard to read on the darker pages. It is almost like this is a picture book for adults, with dark pictures, a thought-provoking story and a dystopian setting. But maybe this is the sort of book we need in order to make picture books popular amongst older readers, and to help a shift in attitudes towards acceptance of all varieties of reading formats.
This blog post is for my little sister x