Edwina Wyatt (text), Lucia Masciullo (illus), Together Always, Little Hare/Hardie Grant Egmont, March 2016, 32pp., $24.95 (hbk), ISBN: 9781742979632
This picture book is a thoughtful tale of the friendship between Pig and Goat who vow to stick together always. But after a while, an irreconcilable difference separates them. Goat longs to explore the wind and the rocks of the forest beyond the gate of the orchard, but Pig misses the trees and the stream of the orchard. So, with heads bent and forlorn facial expressions, Pig and Goat say their goodbyes and part ways. But while apart they continue to draw comfort from the love and support that they have previously experienced in their friendship.
Children will relate to the theme of friendship, loyalty and mutual support. Adults will appreciate the more complex themes of difficulties in reconciling the tension between pursuing individual wishes against commitment to a relationship.
Edwina’s text has a lovely rhythm with repetition of key phrases. With paucity of words a friendship of mutual support and interdependence is vividly described. The text evokes a slightly sad and lonely but whimsical mood.
Lucia’s soft water colour illustrations support and advance the mood and content of the text well. Goat and Pig’s amicable interactions and interconnectedness are fore and centre in illustrations that focus on the two characters only. Then when they are apart their aloneness is emphasised as they are shown alone amidst a large landscape. The calm, idyllic scene of the orchard is in contrast to the tall tree trunks and huge rocks of the wild mountains scenes. In the beginning Goat and Pig are together as they snuggle up or interact amicably, and in the end they are together as they bid each other goodnight from a wide distance.
Together Always is a quality picture book which weaves a simple but pertinent story with an economy of well chosen words and illustrations that enhance the story.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz