Review Blog

Nov 14 2014

Corn field by Gary Crew

cover image

Ill. by Aaron Hill. Windy Hollow Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922081377
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Picture book for older readers. Fear. Bravado, Mystery. Mystery is too tame a word for the events Crew gives us in this eerie and unsettling story. Malevolence permeates every page as the narrator bribes his friend Micky into going into the cornfield with him. The narrator's father is a crop duster and owns a helicopter, which Micky would love to try out. Reminders are given about what happened to Reg Pinchly, another friend from school who approached the field and was never the same again. And as they move closer to the centre of the field, they spy a scarecrow with a scythe. Spooked already, the sight of this image scares the two of them and they try and run out of the field, with varying results.
The image of the boy on the first page sitting staring at the window is repeated at the end, but this time the glass is shattered. Hints abound in the story of being unbalanced, of being an object in a glass jar, of being watched and spied upon.
The illustrations add another stunning dimension to the story: with its cut out pieces, some images cut up and placed back together inexpertly, of thought bubbles with no words, of images sometimes seeming like they are seen through misty glass. All underline the supernatural elements of the story, adding tantalising ideas which could explain what is going on. Or maybe not. Whatever the tale, the whole is mesmerising, enfolding the reader into a story with hints of what it is about, forcing the reader to produce a story of their own based on the scant evidence given. The text and illustrations serve up a tantalising dish of maybes and what ifs to ponder.
Fran Knight

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