Review Blog

Aug 07 2009

Free to a good home by Colin Thompson

cover image

Random House Australia, 2009. ISBN 9781741663181
Peter and Sally Smith are not ordinary children. They, along with their parents, are known for collecting things, but none more strange than the day the children go shopping and come home with an old lady. Drawing on the tales children give their parents about finding a stray cat or dog, and the cry of  'it just followed me home,' Thompson has created an intricate and absorbing picture book about an old lady and her stay with the Smith family. I loved every page, as I turned each over to find other things to look at and think about, drawings to unravel and words to ponder.
As the children give their parents reasons for the old lady to stay, she slips into their routines, cooking, cleaning, helping the kids with their homework, mowing the lawn, all the while with the Smith parents asking questions about who she is and why people are not looking for her.
As with Thompson's books, there is no resolution but questions and ideas. Some of the pages are very bleak, giving an impression that something nasty is about to happen, and the way the old woman, now 'Granny' has them all tied up at the end, but with Christmas lights, gave me the eerie feeling that she was taking over. Wonderful illustrations full of things to look at and think about, the submarine in the Monet painting is a hoot, and the little things scattered on every page a delight.
Fran Knight

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