Easily my top pick in the Children’s Book Council of Australia – Book of the Year 2016 shortlist is the beautiful book Perfect, which is written by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood. Danny Parker lives right here in Perth, though we can’t claim him as home grown – Danny and his family came to Australia from the UK in 2004 on what he calls ‘a big adventure’. Freya Blackwood lives in Orange, NSW, with her daughter, pet dog and their 4 chickens.
Perfect is such a simply perfect book that it rates a mention in the list of notable books in two categories: Picture book of the year and Early Childhood book of the year. It has made it through to the shortlist in the Early Childhood category, and I am loving this book for my 2 year old in particular but all 4 of my children (ages 2, 8, 9, and 13) have found it an easy and engaging read.
Together, Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood have captured a snapshot of the ultimate unplugged family. I don’t know how they’ve done it, whether it’s the simple, single sentences of Danny Parker’s text, or the beauty of Freya Blackwood’s glorious illustrations many of which she based on her own childhood growing up in country New South Wales. I have read reviews questioning how realistic the whole premise of the book is in today’s world, and yet it’s really captured the hearts of so many readers – children and adults alike. I get the feeling that the majority of the times that I see my children enjoying themselves so completely and innocently, like the children in Perfect, is when we’re out in the bush camping. Is it really possible to disconnect so completely at home, in suburbia? I hope that the answer is ‘Yes’, because that exploring and adventuring is such an important part of childhood, and surely something that we, as parents, can consciously facilitate for our kids.
The story follows three children and their pet cat through a whole day, and provides many question and answer type opportunities for pre-readers to interact with the story (What is the cat having for breakfast? What has the boy found?). They transition through the day together, undertaking many activities that all children will identify with.
I could honestly harp on about this book and Freya Blackwood’s illustrations all day. If you come along to the Coolbellup Pram Jam session on Monday 22nd August (during Children’s Book Week), I’ll bet that this will be the book that I choose to read for the children. The story line is so pure and the ending so sweet, I dare say that I won’t be able to resist, and it fits the theme this year Perfect-ly (see what I did there? 😉 ) Australia! Story Country! I’ve given Perfect a perfect 5 out of 5 stars, it is a book that I will happily buy for all of the birthday parties that we’re invited to this year 🙂