Tim Minchin (text), Steve Antony (illus.), When I Grow Up, Scholastic Australia, Oct 2017, 32pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781742764955
Playful, fun and full of vitality When I Grow Up captures the exuberance and wonder of childhood. The text by internationally acclaimed writer, musician and comedian Tim Minchin is simple, direct and engaging. This picture book has a joyful quality to it with its sparse text and cartoon-like illustrations by Steve Antony with plenty of hidden subtleties to enjoy. The illustrations are full of humour and movement complementing the text and reflecting the feeling of skipping, jumping and dashing through life because there is so much fun to be had, so much to explore and so many things to do. This energy is balanced with moments of wistfulness and quiet reflection.
There are no names in this picture book consisting completely of double-page spreads which extend the momentum of the illustrations. This child is ‘Everychild’ and his or her dreams are universal, wanting the autonomy and freedom of being able to climb a tree, splash in a fountain, have sweets every day and do all the things a child wants to do. There are also dreams of being brave, smart and strong. While the focus remains on one child because of his bright red and white striped T-shirt, he also has two female friends who join in with his adventures in a friendly world alive with interest and possibilities.
When I Grow Up is vibrant with excitement and an obvious love of life. It will appeal to children aged five and above and comes with a bonus download of Tim Minchin performing the song from his popular musical Matilda.
Reviewed by Grace Nolan