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Iris and Isaac

Posted on Oct 21, 2010

Catherine Rayner
(Little Tiger Press)
Polar bears Iris and Isaac are not friends anymore! They are having difficulty agreeing about the way they can share the nest that Iris has made (someone has too big a bottom!) and so both stomp off in a huff, in opposite directions. As they both wander on the ice field, they come across some wonderful sights. If only they could share the experience with their best friend … if only they had not argued! Will Iris and Isaac find a way to reconcile?

 

This book is simply a beautiful ode to the ups and downs of friendship and will be cherished by young readers who often have to deal with similar situations without fully understanding why they are happening. The importance of sharing is also very much emphasised here, which is another thing that children in the targeted audience often have issues with! By using animals rather than people in her stories, Catherine Rayner manages to express the most powerful emotions with striking simplicity. Her illustrations always convey a powerful sense of place, with the backdrop often mirroring the emotions of the characters. I remember this being particularly striking in Harris Finds His Feet, and here the vastness of the ice field can be seen as a projection of Iris and Isaac’s sense of emptiness at being without the other.

The artwork is always beautiful, and often simply stunning. Catherine Rayner excels at drawing animals and landscapes. Despite the snowy backdrops, warmth oozes out of the pages. My favourite is this one:

I am just in awe of how she uses colour and different materials to depict the details of the cave.

This has all the makings of a classic picture book and I would encourage any parent of young children to check it out. The winter landscape makes it a perfect dark winter evening read!

frank
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