Fashionista (Maxine Beneba Clarke, Lothian)
The ever-versatile Maxine Beneba Clarke has worked within a number of genres (nonfiction, fiction, poetry, essays and children’s books) and now she is back with another picture book. The point of difference is that this is the first one she has both written and illustrated. Fashionista is for anyone who’s ever played around with clothes (so really, it’s for big and little kids). It’s about the beauty of self-expression: it’s not so much about what you wear but how you wear it. Clarke admits that there are days when we all just laze around in PJs with unbrushed hair (‘Can’t-be-bothered, comfy-careless’) but on other days, ‘Chic-a-bam! You’re the fashion KING!’ The pictures are a montage of textured cut-outs: of different colours, fabrics and patterns affixed to watercolour pencil drawings. There’s a joyous, frenzied effect in Fashionista; the young characters dance about in every which way, with their wardrobes a riot of styles (new, old and second-hand). It’s very much a celebratory song: telling kids it’s fine to wear whatever you feel like, to stand brave and to mix and match as your mood tells you. Raiding the dress-up box is almost guaranteed after a reading of this book.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue