Marvin and Violet are best friends. They’re like socks and shoes, salt and pepper, two peas in a pod. That’s what Mum reckons. Violet reckons Marvin is Marvellous, so that’s what she calls him. Wolf, Violet’s dog, and Marvin’s chook, T Rex are best friends, too. Being next door neighbours on Raven Street is loads of fun, especially when Violet has a jumping castle and octopus in her back yard, a train in her lounge room and a ghost in her kitchen. But one day Violet has some disturbing news. We are moving, Marvellous. We are going to the moon.
Chris McKimmie has produced another pearl. Using his trademark Dylan and Blake font, naive illustrations, magical thinking and understated subtext, there is something to chuckle at or ponder on every page. Like its predecessors, this is a book that can be returned to time and again, each subsequent read revealing extra levels of meaning. McKimmie’s clever use of symbolism may not be apparent to the young child, but the overall effect is powerful. Take for example the image of Marvin, depicted after Violet has left, with a giant bird on his head, appearing as though he were sinking through the bottom of the page, weighed down with sadness.
Pre-schoolers will love the simple story line, the accessibility of the child-like illustrations. Older children will enjoy the story at a different level, and appreciate the inherent humour (The stubble-faced dog walker with chic poodle and poo bag!), the themes of friendship and loss and the detail of the illustrations.
McKimmie makes use of a variety of devices to integrate the text, subtext and illustrations: the concrete poem effect of displaying the text, “the sun was sinking into the ocean”, in the shape of the sun; the arrangement of the letters in the word “jumping”; the colourful painted letters in the double “o” train destinations.
This is a book to have fun with, to tug at the heart strings and to return to often.