Friday, 13 June 2014

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th June 2014: "Hearts" by Thereza Rowe (Toon Books)


Written and Illustrated by
Thereza Rowe

Published by Toon Books

Conveying subtle emotion and heartache without using words? That's a heck of a challenge. Doing so in a children's book? That's even more of a challenge. Making something so beautiful that it's an instant win with Charlotte? OK that's like climbing a mountain in a pair of carpet slippers and yet Brazilian-born artist and author Thereza Rowe has achieved these lofty goals with her latest book, "Hearts" and bagged our Book of the Week into the bargain.

"Hearts" tells the story of Penelope the Fox. Penelope's best friend has to go away for a long time, jetting off in a rather cool space rocket. Penelope is heartbroken - but worse, her poor broken heart is accidentally swept out to sea.

So begins a chase across a surreal but beautiful landscape as Penelope struggles to regain what is lost. The story is conveyed using minimal but very well chosen words, with the aim of introducing young readers to a story that they can tell in their own way, put their own stamp on, and get such a huge buzz out of.

Penelope the Fox is such a fantastic character, and we found ourselves rooting for her throughout the entire story. Does she succeed in her grand quest to regain her heart?

You will have to read the book to find out, of course.

As we said at the top of the review, the story is conveyed in such a touching and beautiful way (thanks in no small part to Thereza's absolutely stunning artwork). Children have an affinity for stories that immerse them, and there's no better way to immerse a child in a story than to have them take part in reading the dialogue of that story themselves. Largely using speech bubbles and incidental noises, Thereza's book is so much fun to act out.

Charlotte and I had quite the debate at home about the very start of the story (you will see why when you read the book). The object of Penelope's deep love and affection seems to be female, so we're really interested to find out whether our readers and followers interpreted the story in the same way as we did. It speaks of such a deep love and wrenches your heart out a little at the start. Pixar do this in their movies a lot, and it works to brilliant effect here.

Oh but it's achingly beautiful this! Can you tell we're smitten?

Books like this - largely wordless books - show that an expression of love can take many forms from the surreal to the symbolic, and in the hands of an extremely talented lady like Thereza, you will struggle to find a book that describes love more perfectly than this.

Charlotte's best bit: "The Garden of Lost Things" which was both breathtakingly amazing visually, and a little scary too!

Daddy's Favourite bit: I was completely bowled over by this book, visually it's absolutely stunning, the story works for a variety of age groups, the characters are fantastic and the setting is the sort of place you'd love to visit in your dreams. I would love to see a thousand more books like this from Thereza, it really is that good.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Toon Books)