Friday, October 5, 2012

Good Morning Mr Pancakes - Chris McKimmie

Reading a Chris McKimmie book is like going on a glorious adventure where there are no rules and no expectations that anything will be predictable. You are guaranteed to have your notion of creativity re-sized, re-created and re-shaped. If you are a child you will become immediately enchanted and deliciously lost in McKimmie’s off-beat world of imagination. If you are an adult you will marvel at McKimmie’s capacity to capture and replicate the resourceful, inventive, and ingenious machinations of the mind of the child with such verisimilitude and wit.
If you were to speculate on the type of relationship McKimmie might enjoy with his grandchildren – who have all contributed in some way to this latest offering – you might wonder if it were marvellous. You can imagine the detail of their play, spoken thoughts, interactions, nuances of speech – everything about them – soaking into his bones. It is no wonder his ingenuous books are so refreshing and enlivening.
Good Morning Mr Pancakes, a story about Bee, a small girl who makes travel preparations then goes on a fantasy-filled week away, is no exception. On her holiday island, Bee is so excited, she thinks her head might fall off and while she’s away she sleeps with a turkey on the end of her bed, eats with her hands and licks her bowl. On holidays she has pointy teeth and doesn’t wash her hair and can eat as slow as an entire dog.
As with his previous books, McKimmie employs his idiosyncratic style featuring child-like illustrations (including sketches supplied by his grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law) and playful, witty storyline. There are plenty of diversions and supplementary material on each page to surprise the reader with fresh discoveries on subsequent returns. The differing sizes and ranges of fonts – there is a different font on every page – the text, illustrations and general book design work as a unified whole to furnish the story with humour and enchantment. Produced using a combination of acrylic paint, watercolours, coloured pencil, ink, lead pencil and collage, the book has a tactile feel to it. When I opened to the first end paper – which resembles a child’s sketchbook – I found myself checking my fingers for graphite.
This is a whimsical story with much to delight young readers and their teachers and parents alike. Each page provides a feast of entrancement to forage about in. With themes of creativity, humour and insouciance, there is plenty to point out, discuss and to return to. Another delightful McKimmie creation.
Allen&Unwin 2011

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