Jeannie Baker is one of the most amazing picture book creators in the world. She’s known all over the world for her hugely detailed and textured collages that she creates to tell a story. Some of her previous books, like Window, have been wordless, but tell incredible stories. I had the pleasure a few years ago of seeing the exhibition of her book, Mirror, and it was an unforgettable experience. Jeannie Baker’s new book, Circle, is another stunning picture book that tells the story of the Bar-tailed Godwits.
Circle is an outstanding picture book that, like Jeannie’s previous books, will be treasured by children and adults alike. You feel that you are holding something precious in your hands when you are reading this book because you can see the love that has gone into the story.
Through Circle Jeannie tells us the story of the Bar-tailed Godwit’s who travel 11,000 kilometres from their breeding grounds in Alaska to Australia and New Zealand. They follow ancient invisible pathways in the sky, over oceans, cities, icebergs and beaches. We follow them as they make their journey, make their nests, survive attacks from predators and struggle to find food.
Jeannie travelled to Alaska, China and South Korea in her research for this book and saw the ‘enormous extent of the reclamation and rapid loss of mudflats the Godwits and other shorebirds depend on for food.’ Through her wonderful book she shows us that it is up to us to live our lives without destroying the places that theses birds need to survive. These Godwits are amazing birds but they also need our help. Jeannie gives us some more information about the Godwits in the authors note at the end of the book, including a map of their migration.
Jeannie’s illustrations are absolutely beautiful. You feel like you could reach out and touch all of the details on the page. Jeannie likes to use textures from the actual materials portrayed in the illustrations, like trees, plants and wool. The grasses and trees on the first page look so real because they are real. I think it is particularly impressive the way that she creates depth in her illustrations. There is one page that shows the Godwits flying in a line through the night sky and the Godwits get smaller the further back they are. You know that Jeannie has had to make some very tiny Godwits for this particular illustration.
There is plenty to see in each of the illustrations, from people doing different activities to the amazing scenic images. You always discover different things in Jeannie’s books with each new reading and Circle is no exception. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the book that I discovered there are other migrating creatures to find in the illustrations, like Green turtles and Caribou.
Grab a copy of Circle now and get taken on an incredible journey with Jeannie Baker and the Godwits. Circle is a must-have for any school or library.