Review Blog

May 19 2011

The glasshouse by Paul Collins and Jo Thompson

cover image

Ford St, 2010. ISBN 978 1921665045.
Highly recommended. This picture book is a modern parable about the themes of obsessing with perfection; being a loner; friendship, and being resistant to change. This is certainly a change of genre from prolific Australian fantasy author Paul Collins, but he proves to be multi-talented.
Clara, the central character, has bright orange hair, a freckled face and sorrowful eyes and lives in isolation growing perfect pumpkins in her perfect glasshouse. The vegetable growers, who initially flocked to her door stopped doing so after she became obsessive about keeping bugs or bad soil from the outside world out and thus made them wear gloves and remove their shoes.
One dark haired boy kept returning and even showed Clare his pumpkin, which she derided, saying 'It's not the perfect colour.' His reply of, 'It's a different shade of orange, but it's still a pumpkin,' had a moral to it. He went on to say that it must be lonely for her in the glasshouse alone and that she should go to the market.
Eventually no buyers came to Clara's glasshouse anymore and her pumpkins suffered and got blemishes. Clara thought more and more about the boy and eventually went outside and picked up a stone.
The illustrations by Jo Thompson are stunning and very colourful and this book will appeal to the very young child for this alone. The storyline is easy to read but raises a variety of questions about how to live one's life. Older primary students will be able to evaluate and discuss these. More information is available for teachers on the Ford Street site.
Kay Haarsma (Salisbury East HS)

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