Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where are you Banana? - Sofie Laguna & Craig Smith

Roddy and Banana have been together forever. They’re best friends. When Dad brought a puppy home, Roddy looked at him and said his first word – banana – and since then, Roddy and Banana have been inseparable. Banana pulls Roddy up and down the side of the house on his scooter; when it rains they sit in the shed and Roddy brushes his fur; and at night Banana sleeps on Roddy’s bed. Banana goes everywhere with Roddy – except to Aunt Celia’s house – on account of Penelope, Aunt Celia’s big red hen – who Banana likes to chase. But one day, when the family comes back from a visit to Aunt Celia, something terrible happens. Banana doesn’t come rushing up to greet them like he always does. Roddy can’t find Banana anywhere. No one can find Banana. But what they do find is a hole under the back fence.

Where are you, Banana? is a delightful story about a boy and his dog. Sofie Laguna has created a heart-warming tale that will appeal equally to children and their adults. Smith’s idiosyncratic illustrations combine splendidly with the text to draw the reader straight into the book and keep them absorbed until the last page. This lost dog story is a vibrant and beautifully crafted example of how ingenuity and the love of an animal come together in a small boy. Laguna artfully evokes a swathe of emotion in her storytelling – compassion, whimsy, familiarity, injustice, anxiety, desperation, hope, relief and love. Smith’s spirited illustrations, as always, support the verisimilitude and warmth of the text, joining forces to create full-bodied characters that children will remember and be eager to revisit.

Allen & Unwin 2013
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 28, Issue 3, July 2013)

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