The all new must have Orange 430 by Michael SpeechleyPenguin, 2018. ISBN 9780143788973
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Themes: Consumerism, Toys. Michael Speechley's debut picture book "The All New Must Have Orange 430" introduces young children to the outrageous consumerism that is part of our everyday. We are overwhelmed with advertising, with children particularly targeted and made to feel that life without the latest electronic device, toy or outfit is not worth living. Speechley uses dark, layered backgrounds with sepia images making up a heady mix of brown, grey, orange and white to underscore his message. His unassuming use of muted colour contrasts with the gaudiness of advertising, of its use of technicolour to attract attention and buyers.
Harvey cannot resist the advertising for this latest toy, the Orange 430. It has everything he will ever need, he is told, and it is available now at his local shop for a price that cannot last. Harvey searches his pockets, and his house, into all the corners, until he finally has enough money and he races to the little shop to buy the treasure. But when he gets home, he begins to question what he has done. He looks at the toy from top to bottom, all which ways, but cannot work out what to do with it. He tries it on his head, and in the bath, he props up the wardrobe, then sees if the cat can make it out, but all to no avail. His facial expressions will make the reader laugh out loud, and when he comes to take back his purchase, it is then that frustration comes thick and fast. There is a big queue at the Useless Object International offices, and Harvey asks the others what they did with their useless object. Using the toys' boxes to play with is much more fun than anything the Orange 430 could achieve, so Harvey and his friends find that hopscotch, box boat races and building box towers are enjoyable. Harvey's message is that he's only going to save for useful stuff from now on, going against the aims of Mr Ripoff president of the UIO factory.
"The All New Must Have Orange 430" picture book provides an important insight for families and for classes into the effects of advertising and consumerism in our world. Take notice of the signs and labels in the background. The book encourages discussion about the difference between needs and wants, responsibility with money and the effects of advertising. A most important message for newly arrived consumers at a loss to repel the overtures of advertisers, this is an equally compelling book for all readers.