Edwina Wyatt (text) and Odette Barberousse (illustrator), Tish, Berbay Publishing, April 2021, 191 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780648953388
Tish by Edwina Wyatt and illustrated by Odette Barberousse is a whimsical and poignant lower middle grade read about the power of the imagination to create imaginary friends such as Tish who live, breath and feel just as we do.
The book is cleverly divided into three parts, Somewhere, Elsewhere and Anywhere. In the first story, a lonely child protagonist, Charles Dimple, makes a list for the crucial features required for his ‘Perfect Friend’. Tusks are important to Charles, as is the size, politeness, loyalty and honesty of his new friend. In a moment of pure magic, Tish is created and named from a half sneeze with wisps of smoke that curled from his nostrils like the steam from a hot apple pie. Charles promises Tish that he will never let him go.
As time passes and Charles’ friendship group expands, Tish is let go from Charles’ imagination. The story of Tish moves into the next two parts of the book where Tish forms a connection and subsequent friendship with other children who need this special imaginary friend just as Charles once did.
Edwina’s signature text is magical, thought-provoking and leaves an impression on each page. Barberousse’s black and white illustrations with bold pops of colour show Tish’s transformation as he moves from child’s imagination to the next.
Tish has strong themes of friendship, saying goodbye and having the confidence to believe in yourself and your role in the world. It is one of those books that will stay in the reader’s heart forever, for we all, young and old, once had an imaginary friend as powerful as Tish in our lives. A highly recommended text for readers aged 7 – 12.
Reviewed by Lana Spasevski