Picture Book Nook: Edge of the World by Ian Trevaskis

Shaun Tan, Margaret Wild, and Chris Van Alsberg are some of the masters of sophisticated picture books.  Their stories are told through both words and pictures and they make us think and question.  Edge of the World is a stunning new sophisticated picture book by Ian Trevaskis and illustrated by Wayne Harris, about grief and the power of art to heal wounds.

Edge of the World is about a small fishing village near the edge of the world where ‘the wind shrieked and howled through the empty streets and women and children huddled closer to their hearths,’ and where nobody smiled.  While other fishermen talk about their adventures, Toby McPhee keeps to himself and tries to forget what has happened.  Everyone in the village gets on with their lives; the women pray for the boats’ safe return and the children trudge to school.  Everything changes one day when Toby McPhee hauls in his fishing net and discovers more than just fish.  Each time he returns home with tiny pots of paint, which he uses to bring colour back into his life and the lives of the villagers.

Edge of the World is a magical story full of colour and hope.  Ian Trevaskis’ writing style is very descriptive and paints a picture for the reader, even without Wayne Harris’ illustrations.  You can sense the sadness of the village and it’s inhabitants from the opening lines, but the tone lightens as more colour gets introduced to the village.  Wayne Harris‘ illustrations are absolutely beautiful and it’s hard to believe that they were created digitally.  Wayne’s use of colour is very important to the story and he has shown this in the change in colour palette throughout the story.  In the beginning the colours are very muted and dull, but they get progressively brighter as the mood of Toby and the villagers change.  I’ve read this book at least 5 times so far and have got something new from each reading and viewing of the story.  It is a perfect picture book to study as a class (especially Year 7/8) as there as so many different aspects of the story, from the use of descriptive language to symbolism of different colour, that you could explore.   Walker Books have even created Teacher’s Notes to use with the book.

4 out of 5 stars

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