Trent Jamieson and Rovina Cai – The Giant and the Sea

Lothian Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette Australia, 2020

This beautiful work begins with sweeping views of the sea and the sand and the tale of a giant who keeps watch.  The giant’s message to the girl is that the sea is rising due to a ‘machine’ in the city. Unless it is turned off the oceans will rise, and everyone will drown.

Predictably and reflecting our sad reality, the people do not listen to pleas to shut down the machine, but rather they glorify and worship it – and disaster ensues. Short term salvation by the compassionate and wise giant leads only to further disaster.

Barbie talks to Trent Jamieson about The Giant and the Sea

Perfectly marrying text and artwork, The Giant and the Sea is a powerful allegory on climate change and global warming. Rovina Cai’s drawings are dark, at times apocalyptic. Although the focus here is on the waters of the earth, they pull us immediately into the summer we have just experienced in Australia with its climate driven devastation by fire.

The artist’s palette is unusual for a picture book, a work which will reach both children and adults with its clear environmental message and call for action. I am a firm believer in the power of the picture book to speak to all ages, and this one certainly does this. Trent Jamieson’s writing is refined in its simplicity – poetic in its rhythms.

The Giant and the Sea would be a worthy text in any primary school classroom or library to engender the discussion in which 21st century children are so able to engage. It is both a delight to read aloud and to sit contemplatively with alone in a chair.

Yes, I do love it, no need to pretend impartiality. I hope to see more of this utterly right combination of writer and artist. The book production is also excellent. I am a sucker for great end papers and these muted, ecru-coloured, splattered papers are a winner. The back cover blurb asks: But will the people listen? I hope so.