Brodie by Joy Crowley

cover image

Ill. by Chris Mousdale. Walker Books, 2013 (2001) ISBN 978
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Picture book. Cancer. Walker Books Australia has continued republishing classic Australian and New Zealand picture books. Amongst those being republished are some I have not seen before, so it is pleasure reading those which have won awards in the past, especially those I have missed. For more information about these, the inside back cover shows some which have been republished.
Brodie by award winning New Zealand author, Joy Cowley introduces the reader to a young boy who is ill. Brodie's friend in his class speaks about his friend, the affable, talkative Brodie, who makes the class laugh with his jokes, who draws continually and talks of being a helicopter pilot. But hinted in the subtle text we know that he is ill. When he is in hospital the class visits and several give him presents. His teacher, Mrs Patawai gives him her grandfather's Spitfire helmet from World War One, while his friend gives him a big drawing book and some felt pens.
One day Mrs Patawai must tell the class that Brodie died the evening before, and grief follows. Each child expresses their grief differently, and each asks their teacher about what happens next. This a masterful tale, beautifully told, giving a wide variety of expressions of grief, death and what happens after death. No easy answers are given but a child reading this book will be made aware that there are as many answers as there are questions, and that people have their own ideas about the big questions of life.
The wonderful illustrations, showcase a variety of techniques and ideas, giving the reader another layer of story to read as they delve into the book. Cut outs, letters, boxes of tears, pencil drawings and water colour, crayon and splatter all used with great effect, made me turn each page with care in case I missed something. Readers will absorb the illustrations, seeing them reflect what is happening in the tale.
This book won the New Zealand Post Children's Picture Book Award in 2002 and the Best First Book Award,as well as being a 2002 Storylines Notable Picture book.
Fran Knight