Steve Goes to Carnival (Joshua Button & Robyn Wells, Magabala)
A picture book can often be a happy collaboration between an author and an illustrator; far more rarely is it the product of two artists. In Steve Goes to Carnival, young Indigenous artist Joshua Button and artist and educator Robyn Wells have created a light-hearted story about a gorilla named Steve who slips out of his Rio zoo to find his friend and zookeeper Antonio. It’s Carnival time in the city. Above the uproar, Steve hears and follows the sound of Antonio’s saxophone coming from a jazz club, and before long, he is dancing the night away. Using fluid black ink lines, strong colours and blocks of patterns and textures, the artists have created a vibrant book that is both painterly and graphic. They have made images that are full of life—Button’s depictions of animals are marvellous—and all the colour and excitement of Rio leaps off the pages. At the end of the book, the artists explain their fascination with the city: ‘The discovery of the history, architecture, language, music and food of Rio de Janeiro was an evolving journey as we pored over the textures and colours of the city.’ This would be a terrific introduction to the 2016 Olympic City for three- to eight-year-olds.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller