Our Last Trip to the Market

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Lorin Clarke (text), Mitch Vane (illus.), Our Last Trip to the Market Allen and Unwin,  April 2017,  32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925266962

The opening page of this book depicts a mother and her six children setting out for a morning’s shopping at the market. What a fabulous morning, mother says, a thought clearly not shared by all the children, two of whom are squabbling over the shopping bag. This opening spread sets the scene for the whole of the book during which the mother proceeds happily through the market, often seeming quite oblivious to what the children are doing. When she is aware, her reaction is rather different from what might be expected. This dual narrative, indeed triple narrative as there are frequently two different ones in the illustration, is what gives the book its humour and interest. This is a book which has a perfect combination of text and illustration each adding to the other.

The illustrations are exuberant and there is so much to see in them. Anouk, the baby, for example, is spotted by her mother ‘buying some pasta’, which actually means she has managed to pull down several packets which have split and spread over the floor. By the time they all arrive at the cash register with all the open pasta packets, mother is beginning to look very harried! She has recovered her equilibrium as they leave the market, however, and declares they have had an excellent trip. Her sentiment this time is not shared by all those they’ve met in the market, who are depicted in the background looking angry and dismayed. The children’s behavior has been rather less than exemplary thoughout, something which no doubt young readers will note.

The title is enigmatic. Is the ‘last’ referring to the most recent trip or implying that this is the last time the trip will ever occur because the mother can’t cope with another, or even, perhaps, that the shopkeepers don’t want them back!

The lovely endpapers pick up the watermelon theme of one of the illustrations inside and of the amusing cover which portrays one of the children carrying a watermelon almost as big as herself! This is a book which will work very well for sharing.

Reviewed by Margot Hillel

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