Swan Lake (Anne Spudvilas, A&U)
In her introduction to this book, which is a retelling of the iconic ballet by Tchaikovsky, illustrator Anne Spudvilas says she wanted to create a version of the ballet in pictures and was inspired by the riverbank near her home and its abundant bird- and plant-life. She has succeeded in producing a superb version that will resonate with young readers. The three-act, tragic love story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer is told in text on just three pages of the book, allowing the story to unfold visually through the wonderfully evocative illustrations. The full double-page spreads convey the dramatic tale of passion, betrayal and heartbreak. The beautifully drawn illustrations are almost photographic, but with limited use of colour, and convey both the emotions of the protagonists and the setting with tender and expressive scenes. Having collaborated on picture books with authors such as Margaret Wild and Janeen Brian, Spudvilas has added another splendid work to her list. This is highly recommended for all ages.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She is now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW