Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

On My Island

by Marie-Louise Gay

On a little island in a sea of the imagination, a boy and his animal friends watch the world drift by. Nothing happens, the boy narrator tells us throughout this deceptively simple picture book, but the pictures tell a different story. While the bored islanders bask in the sun, a huge fire-breathing green dragon with blue scales swims by; in the winter, the island is surrounded by icebergs and a host of penguins. As the boy dreams of adventures, we watch a volcano erupting, boys with big white cowboy hats swooping across the water on the backs of blue-and-white dolphins, and elephants with parachutes floating down out of the sky. Nothing happens?

Award-winning author and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay has once again created a stunning picture book that perfectly captures the imaginative and dreamy world of childhood, a world that’s devoid of happenings and, at the same time, full of imaginary adventures. The gentle and whimsical sense of humour will delight readers of all ages. A simple and lyrical text is clearly part of the secret, but it’s Gay’s illustrations that truly make this book sing. On My Island is chock full of things for kids to look at and enjoy, from a hand-lettered pen-and-ink text to the exuberant watercolours, which gain even greater depth through an extraordinary use of collage. Gay has used textured handmade Japanese paper to create huge curling waves, enormous sandcastles, and a red-hot sky. You’ll see bits of organic materials in the paper – flower petals, leaves, grass – as well as pieces of newspapers. And she’s also dyed some of this textured paper, creating an even richer array of colours in a book that dazzles the eye.

Engaging, playful, and visually rewarding from start to finish, On My Island is another coup for this outstanding author and illustrator.