Review Blog

Sep 16 2013

The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty by Karla Strambini

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Walker Books Australia, 2013. 32 pages. Hardcover. RRP: $27.95.
(Age 5-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Imagination, Creativity, Individuality, Inventions.
'There once was a man called Norman Qwerty . . . who ideas were far from ordinary.'
Mr Norman Qwerty is an imaginative man who worries that his ideas are a little strange, so he hides them under his large bowler hat. Mr Qwerty's home workshop is jam-packed with his inventions from wind-up egg cups and mouse traps, there are pulleys and levers everywhere and six-fingered model hands holding pencils to catch his new ideas. There are so many wonderful things to explore on each spread, the striped zippered giraffe suit, the toaster warming socks and so much more is waiting to be discovered.  When Mr Qwerty ventures out in the world, everyone else seems grey, bland and they think differently. Of course he's mistaken and each person really has wonderfully unique thought processes shown visually like carousels, scientific experiments, hot air balloons all emerging from their hats. When his inventions finally grow so big and his world changes, he discovers that he is not alone and the world is not the same.
Karla Strambini's unique black and white scribbled, cross-hatched pencil illustrations with small spots of red or blue colour are outstanding. They add a rich depth of meaning to the simple yet powerful text. They emphasize the emotions of loneliness, creativity, individuality and acceptance.
I would highly recommend this book for readers from 5 to 7 years old and for classes from Reception to Year 7! This book is a wonderful read aloud, the simple narrative balanced by the complexity of the illustrations. This book is great for Science - simple machines and as a springboard into art activities and design in technology. A great teacher's guide is available from Walker Books that includes the interesting development of the story and illustrations.
Rhyllis Bignell

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