Coming Home to Country (Bronwyn Bancroft, Little Hare)
This picture book is bathed in a ‘palette of leaf green, red rust, yellow ochre, deep blue and crimson’ as the unnamed narrator returns home, back to Country. Bronwyn Bancroft’s book is a quiet, reflective celebration; a charming communion with nature seen through the eyes of a young girl who travels to the land of her forebears and feels an immediate connection to all that is laid out before her. Stylistically, the illustrations are eye-catchingly radiant, with little text to distract from the beauty of the swirling lines and dots depicting the spread of the natural landscape. There is a palpable sense of belonging, a comfort to be had as our narrator finally gets to feel ‘the breath of the valley’ and slip into the crystal-clear creek water. She is alone but at the same time enveloped in the presence of those long gone. (The animals are there too, with welcoming birdsong.) Whether looking at the patterns in the clouds or being caught in a sudden storm, her activities are captured in harmonious colour and design. When the girl is lulled into dreams of her ancestors, she is ‘cradled in the hands of my people’. The reader is similarly enchanted. The minimal text and bright colours make Coming Home to Country suitable for preschoolers onwards.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue