Iceberg (Claire Saxby, illus by Jess Racklyeft, A&U)
There is no absolutely question as to why Claire Saxby and Jess Racklyeft are both multi-award-winning creators, and this book is a perfect partnership, eliciting the very best from both of them. Suited to mid-primary readers, Iceberg loosely follows the life cycle of an iceberg through the seasons, and will draw children to a glorious Antarctic landscape and drive adults to help follow up on new knowledge by researching some of the more scientific (occasionally distancing) terms buried in the delicious narrative. (Though I wonder if a glossary might have worked.) Racklyeft’s watercolours have a subtle and light touch yet nurture enormous intensity in their layered blues. Shifting swirls construct the ocean, ice and air, and feel like layer upon layer of X-rays or memories. Drifting in the deep, the immense shadows of whales contrast with the sharp ice-blues in which seabirds slide and the cold terrain upon which penguins scatter. This nonfiction book is richly informative and brimming with detailed facts presented in lyrical, sophisticated, evocative language—an expert merging of knowledge with grace. Text and image balance each other perfectly in their delicate yet powerful tone, conveying exactly the world Saxby and Racklyeft set out to reveal to us. The first-person plural postscript is a quiet plea for the respect this landscape demands, and in turn for a global landscape in dire need of protection.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is a freelance editor, writer and reviewer, and has worked as a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop for over 10 years.