Hardie Grant Explore, Australia, 2021
Design Jo Hunt
Tania McCartney is both author and illustrator of this book, a story which delights in individuality, cultural diversity, travel, an adventuresome spirit, reading, sharing of experiences and the power of the image.
Plume is an Antarctic penguin, like his or her fellows in most ways but still a stand-out from the crowd kind of character, sporting a yellow forehead feather and an orange woolly jumper. While Plume loves reading about everything and everywhere, the lure of real-life travel is strong and a world journey is soon made possible thanks to Ava, the albatross.
It is important in this story that every continent is visited and on each there is a meeting with a native animal and a person, there is an experience of food and language and a new feeling to be had – everything from bliss to astonishment.
While Tania McCartney is a lover of the English word, she is also passionate about the importance of the image in communication, especially in children’s literature. Not only are images accessible they can often carry details additional to the text and hence tell their own parallel story in a picture book or illustrated text.
Tania has created a winsome character in Plume and has filled her pages with so many charming elements from the grey fuzzy furred baby penguins to the clothes worn by characters in each country. The use of the little polaroid snapshots reminds us that as travellers we love to share our new experiences with others and for decades this has been through the art of photography.
Knowing that the Plume explorer books are a series (hooray), we’ll look forward to following this intrepid little aquatic bird on further world explorations. Young readers will no doubt be charmed and fascinated by all that Plume has to share with us of his or her insights into the human and natural world. As Plume finds more and more to marvel at, we will happily fill our bookshelves with these companion volumes.
Thank you to Hardie Grant for my review copy and to Tania McCartney for another pleasurable conversation about all things books.