Chris McKimmie's picture story book makes a big splash in the children's literature pond. Brian Yellow, variously known as ‘Banana’, ‘Duck’ and ‘Sunshine’, stays with his grandparents on the weekends, which he enjoys. Swimming in the lake with the other ducks is one of his favourite pastimes. In the book, we accompany Brian on his adventures, which include getting lost in the supermarket and being rescued by a giant prawn. We understand Brian's indignation at having to carry a yellow balloon, to make him more visible to Na-na and Grumpy. We celebrate with him when he discovers the giant duck that Grumpy says does not exist, and brings it home.
The book is funny, fresh and full of offbeat originality, engaging the reader in issues around acceptance, identity, family and imagination. Chris McKimmie's illustrations display a sophisticated naivety, inviting the reader back for second helpings to further discover the detail in each image. The text is delightfully witty and lithe. For example, in the supermarket:
'Na-na panicked when I hid in the bananas. Where is my Banana? Where is my darling Banana? She thought I was lost. People thought she was nuts.'
The creative placement of text on the page integrates well with the illustrations, enhanced by McKimmie's original childlike 'dylanandblake' font.
Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow is suitable for children aged from about four to eight, although it could provide stimulus for discussion with older children as well. It works at a number of levels. A set of extremely comprehensive printable Teacher's Notes by Robyn Sheahan-Bright can be found on the Allen and Unwin website.
The notes, which include blackline masters, cover Study of history, society and environment, Visual literacy, English language and literacy, Creative arts, Learning technologies and Mathematics.
Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow has hints of Leunig and is a 'must read' for a refreshing and gutsy look at the real world through the eyes of a child. (Especially if you love the colour yellow!)