Wild, Margaret and Ord, Mandy
Allen & Unwin, 2018, pp32, [pounds sterling]11.99 978 1 76063 472 8
Chalk Boy is being drawn by Barnaby, a pavement artist. Unusually, the story is narrated in the first person by a chalk drawing. Best of all for the Chalk Boy, he has all the positive human attributes of thinking, seeing, hearing, running and, most importantly, feeling.
Barnaby draws in a dark, edgy, urban setting. Passers-by fill the edges of the page, engaged in urban pursuits of listening to music on headphones, using their phones and drinking coffee. Some of the characters are reverse silhouettes (white figures on a dark background), adding to the sense of busyness and anonymity of urban life. Chalk Boy, a bright blue line drawing, contrasts to his jagged busy environment. Gently, Barnaby explains to Chalk Boy that he will wash away when the rain comes. Chalk Boy understands this but in the meantime, he warmly enjoys his life to the full as he is redrawn swimming, somersaulting and playing the guitar. Touchingly, when the rain comes, Barnaby protects him with a cloth and assures him that he is not alone. The minimal words are profoundly moving as they explore universal themes of love, caring and existence. A lot of the emotion is conveyed through Ord's dynamic drawings and the sensitive lines that make Chalk Boy. Wonderfully quirky and infused with a love of life.