Under the Love Umbrella (Davina Bell, illus by Allison Colpoys, Scribble)
Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys’ previous collaboration was the superb, award-winning The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade, and their follow-up, Under the Love Umbrella, has a similar charm—if not quite the same sense of refinement. The ‘love umbrella’ is a sweet analogy for invisible, protective, omnipresent love, and the story is simple: no matter what challenge children may face, they can always rely on the love umbrella above them. The idea is warm, heartfelt and comforting, and will stay with readers as an evocative metaphor for communicating emotion between any two people who love each other. Bell’s verse is slightly awkward but the message resounds clearly and should satisfy children aged three and up and adult readers alike. The illustrations feature expressive, simple characters drawn with a restricted colour palette that is distinctive and generally pleasing. Colpoys’ style is attractive as always, though perhaps not as clean or as compelling as some of her earlier works. A particular strength in the illustrations is the subtle diversity of family relationships: grandparents, varied skin colours, same-sex parents. The endpapers are a nice added touch, encouraging children to think about their own support networks (‘who’s under your love umbrella?’) and also to reread the book to find extra layers of detail (‘There are lots of umbrellas inside this book. Can you help us find them all?’).
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor, writer and bookseller at the Hobart Bookshop