Maura Finn (text), Karen Erasmus (illus.), Rose’s Red Boots, New Frontier, June 2017, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780957988446
One bright autumn day, Rose and her little dog Banjo decide to go on an adventure. Wearing her beloved red boots and with her trusty companion at her side, Rose goes merrily on her way.
Karen Erasmus’s dazzling illustrations really complement the beautiful imagery conjured up by Maura Finn’s delightful prose. The vividly inky depth of the water colours, barely contained within Erasmus’s soft, sweeping pencil lines show off the day’s blustery autumnal beauty to perfection. Some illustrations are glorious double page spreads, showing the stunning countryside backdrop and the whipped up fallen leaves dancing about the two friends, whilst others are delicate vignettes, colourful and bold against the large white pages.
As Rose and Banjo journey on to find the perfect place to fly their kite, they discover so many things to explore and experience along the way. Mischief and muddy puddles become part of their wonderful adventure and when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse, Rose and Banjo must change their plans altogether.
‘They crossed the stream and meadow where the playful rabbits run,
And buttercups all turn their heads to greet the morning sun.
Beneath the trees the autumn leaves lay scattered on the ground.
The little red boots went crunching, crunching, crunching.
The little red boots went crunching
To hear that crunching sound.’
Just as in Alfred Noyes’ narrative poem ‘The Highwayman’ Finn includes a repetitive refrain within her prose. Cleverly using the activity of Rose’s little red boots, Finn adds a wonderful rhythmical quality to the narrative. As the little red boots are marching, crunching, chasing, splashing, climbing and dancing; young readers will find confidence in each repetitive chorus and be desperate to join in, both verbally and physically.
Recommended for early and pre-school readers, children will delight at the sight of this big square picture book with its eye catching cover art and meandering smudgy paw prints. Teachers and parents could easily use this beautifully written and illustrated text to inspire some poetic word play or as a prompt for some adventurous role playing activities whilst also discussing the title’s integral themes of explorative play, danger and friendship.
I just love the way that this title promotes the idea of free and imaginative play, as an independent and confident little Rose takes off on a journey of endless possibilities with only her dog and her fabulous red boots for company.
Reviewed by Lisa Hoad