Trace Balla. Shine, Allen & Unwin, June 2015, 24pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781743316344
“We all come from the stars, we all go back to the stars…” It is from these words, spoken by her Grandmother, that author Trace Balla was inspired to craft this sensitive and emotional picture book about love, life and loss.
Shine invites the reader on a journey through a life, from the freedoms of youth, to the magic of companionship. Embracing the joy of family, the sadness of loss and finally depicting the slow emergence from darkness.
Bravely the author does not shy away from the emotions that loss can bring but rather encourages the emotions to be celebrated and shared. Poetically written with mythical references, Shine provides a sensitive and captivating way to tell this tale. Whilst mythical in writing and illustration the reader will find it easy to put themselves into this book, as the connection to family and love is universal. The text is well balanced throughout the pages ensuring the illustrations have the opportunity to further inform the story.
The mythical styled characters have been illustrated without solid form which assists to emphasise the transient nature of life and challenges the illusion we might hold of our permanent place on this Earth. Only three colours have been used in the illustrations; blue, white and yellow. They are used cleverly to demonstrate the shades of life; light, dark, love, loss, happiness and sadness. The restraint shown by the author by using such a limited colour palette is rewarded with simple, yet powerful images which perfectly compliment the text.
More than a book about loss, this thoughtful tale invites the reader to embrace the wonder of life and loving but it also encourages the reader to discover the possibility of surfacing from darkness.
Trace Balla is also the author of Rivertime, which has been recognised as a CBCA Book of the Year, Notable Picture Book for 2015.
reviewed by Kerri Bennett