Message in a Sock (Kaye Baillie, illus by Narelda Joy, MidnightSun)
Message in a Sock is a delightful picture book based on a true exchange between an Australian soldier and a young girl in World War I. Tammy and her mother are knitting socks for the soldiers overseas, and Tammy places a message to her father in the toe of the sock, hoping for a reply. The idea of sending a message out into the world in a vessel is so entrancing that it almost belies the brutal reality of the war in the background. Told with direct and childlike language, this simple story evokes another time and place so well; young readers aged five and up will be able to picture the labour of knitting, the excitement of hiding a note, and the pride Tammy feels when she and her mother take the socks to the War Chest Depot to be sent to the soldiers. Narelda Joy’s collage illustrations are full of detail and interest—the historical touches feel informative rather than attention-grabbing or didactic. The palette is muted, but the pictures have plenty of different textures and patterns to maintain visual interest. Message in a Sock is a window into one of the more positive stories of World War I; it is a tribute to individuals who make a difference and the importance of being part of something much larger than yourself.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller