Float or Sink? (Kylie Covark, illus by Andrew Plant, Ford St)
Kylie Covark’s Float or Sink? quickly develops (after an opening that doesn’t quite nail the meter/rhyme structure to come) into a lively, playful story and preschool children will undoubtedly relish shouting out their own answer to the refrain of the book’s title. The rhythm, once established, is strong and energetic and adds to the read-aloud ease built around a cumulative ‘There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’–style pattern. This, too, will see children joining in. The repeated question is surprisingly addictive, inserting a satisfying pause into the verse and appealing directly to the book’s young audience. Bouncy, cartoonish images by Andrew Plant support the bouncy, cartoonish text (in a font perhaps too bouncy, sometimes impeding reading), portraying the motley collection of small creatures who progressively climb aboard a floating stick, each adding tension to the great philosophical dilemma of whether said stick will ‘float or sink’. Unexpectedly, the caricatures of animals and stick eddying down the river alternate page by page with a contrasting illustration style reminiscent of energetic storyboards drafted for an animation. These likeable images, each sketched against a mono-palette, are more interesting than their simple and bright counterparts. I would enjoy reading this to a group of littlies and sharing their delight.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is a freelance editor, writer and reviewer, and has worked as a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop for over 10 years.