There’s Not One (Jennifer Higgie, Scribble)
This luscious picture book offers such pleasures that small children (and their grown-up read-aloud machines) will be drawn towards it. Its simple story—that while there are billions and zillions of all sorts of things, there is only one you—is full of heart yet stays well away from sentimentality. Each double-page spread introduces a new motif (a dog, a colour, a drop of rain) on its simple verso page, while its recto companion explodes with multitudes of dogs/colours/raindrops in a style reminiscent of a childlike Matisse or Hundertwasser. The text blends light humour—‘there’s not one baked bean … there are (at LEAST) a zillion’—with gentle, concrete observations—‘there’s not one leaf … there are millions on trees … and some fall off’. There’s Not One quickly establishes a familiar call-and-response pattern that is perfect for children to join in with. But first-time children’s author Jennifer Higgie isn’t restricted by the repetition; the rhythms and images are satisfyingly interrupted with contrasting phrasing and shapes on their way to the narrative conclusion. The bold, bright, energetic collage-like images are softened by the thick, matte stock, and Higgie’s illustrations playfully integrate the words. The book’s only drawback is the occasionally tricky-to-decipher text. The overall effect is of joy.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor, writer and bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop