Taro Gomi, Growing Together : 4 stories to share, Phaidon/Penguin Random House Australia, 15 March 2016, $29.95 (hbk), ISBN: 9780714871264
Growing Together is a set of four small picture books written by well known and award winning Japanese children’s picture book author, Taro Gomi, and translated into English. Gomi is best known by English readers for his book Everyone Poos.
The text consists of one short sentence per page with repetition of phrases creating a rhythmical and light hearted effect. Each page of text is adorned and complemented by a bold, colourful illustration, which has a hint of playfulness and humour, on its opposite page.
With few words and lively illustrations, in each book Gomi creates an amusing, warm hearted story about a child’s growth and development. In Exploring, a little boy imagines adventuresome excursions with his Dad on various modes of transport, from the most probable (a bike, a car) to the highly improbable (a rocket, a UFO). In Sharing, two sisters enthusiastically problem solve to share “one half each” of things that they both want, including those that seem impossible to split apart. Growing shows a big brother addressing his baby brother and reflecting on his own stage of babyhood. And in Imagining a little girl imagines the earlier stages of life that her mother has passed through, from “before my mum was a mum..” to the youngest stage “just like me”. I presume that the Mum’s role is limited to being a mum because that is how a young child would view her.
The simple and repetitive text makes the books an excellent enjoyable choice for beginning readers to practice their reading skills and gain reading confidence. Adults and pre-reading children will also enjoy sharing these quirky and lively stories and their bright illustrations.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz