Best Books of 2019: Romi Sharp

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The Tiny Star, Mem Fox (text), Freya Blackwood (illus.), Penguin Random House, ISBN 9780670078127

The phenomenally impressive duo in Mem Fox and Freya Blackwood – legends in their own right – have come together with the creation of a book so suitably deserving to be treasured, and loved, forever in our hearts. Tender text and exquisite illustrations, both so carefully considered and moving, elicit strong depth and a mixture of emotions. This book dignifies loss as meaning new life, wherever that may be in the universe. 

Highly recommended for sharing across the generations. The Tiny Star is a valuable, uplifting and poignant story for the young to make sense of, and find comfort in, heartbreaking loss. 

Colouroos, Anna McGregor (text, illus.), Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734418838

It surely doesn’t get more vibrant and refreshing than this! With energy, soul, bounce and vitality on multiple levelsColouroos is a book that bleeds deep; artistically, culturally, and emotionally. 

Debut author-illustrator, Anna McGregor, cleverly introduces her young readers to Australia’s iconic kangaroo and some key national landscapes through the use of colour (primary colours). As three mobs of roos (red, blue and yellow) migrate at the same waterhole, they slowly come to realise their similarities despite their obvious differences. Colouroos includes a multitude of elements that make for an engaging, interactive and thoughtful read with the underlying message of multicultural togetherness and community congruity. 

Under the Same Sky, Robert Vescio (text), Nicky Johnston (illus.), New Frontier Publishing, ISBN 9781925594676

Under the Same Sky is a stunning book that is an absolute treasure to have in your possession. Robert Vescio masterfully emotes vast, sensory feels through delicately chosen, lyrical language. His thoughtful narrative is like a richly reflective Bob Graham story; literally sparking joy, wonder, beauty and empowerment within its readers. Nicky Johnston’s illustrations across double page landscapes, comparative juxtapositions and deep, warming tones are striking. The differences of each character, from one side of the world to the other, come together beautifully, despite their separate longing for friendship. Here is the power of friendship, diversity, insight and big hearts, all under the same title. 

Horatio Squeak, Karen Foxlee (text), Evie Barrow (illus.), Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781760650476

I love the message hopping out of this tale by internationally-acclaimed author, Karen Foxlee – that meek and mild, quiet and polite DOES NOT at all mean weak. Horatio Squeak is a beautifully uplifting, heart-warming and empowering story, particularly for those like myself and my children with gentle natures. Horatio has BIG courage for a tiny, shy mouse, and his defence for the defenceless is totally admirable. The smooth rhythmic verse brilliantly combines with the soft gouache and pencil illustrations from Evie Barrow; capturing that charming essence of finesse, playfulness and kindness. A big cheer for Horatio!  

Romi Sharp

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