Saturday, 17 March 2012

Reviews of "Ernest" and "Iris and Isaac" by Catherine Rayner

Hello again, Folks in the Smoke,

    Catherine Rayner is a master crafter of the warm, witty animal tale. I've enjoyed all her books but thought I'd chat about my favourite two today.

    "Ernest" is about a moose who is so huge that he can't quite squish himself into the book. It's such a simple and clever idea that you almost start shoving him around yourself in order to help him fit on the page. He's delightful and gorgeous, Rayner's tender lines are adorably smudged and convey a lot about Ernest's character not just his form. The stubborn moose and his chipmunk buddy get to work, if Ernest can't fit in the book, they'll make the book big enough for Ernest. The punchline involves some beautiful paper engineering allowing Ernest to take his rightful pride of place. Victory!


    "Iris and Isaac" are two moody polar bears. They're friends (or something more?) but aren't good sharers, they fall out and storm off in respective huffs. As they wander the icy wastes, they discover beautiful sights only to realise they would enjoy them all the more if they were together, sharing them. Rayner's prose is strong, subtle and wry, never overloading the emotion. And the great, expansive landscapes are somehow gently and minimally rendered. The bears eventually reunite and reconnect, and appreciate each other again - their togetherness a great warmth in the polar chill. The perfect story for squabbling siblings, or even tiffing partners!  

    Rayner's warm text, and sparse yet brimming illustrations, make her picture books quiet and poignant, funny and smart. They are unassuming works of art full of endearing characters and refined life-lessons.  

    Thanks for reading,

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