Collecting colour by Kylie Dunstan

cover image

Lothian, 2008. ISBN 9780734410221
(All ages) Highly recommended. Shortlisted by the Children's Book Council, Collecting colour is a beautiful picture book that describes the art of weaving with pandanus leaves. Rose goes on a trip with her Aboriginal friend Olive into the bush. Olive's mother and her Aunty show them how to collect pandanus and find the berries and roots that will make the dyes to colour them. They have a wonderful day, gathering leaves and colour, and having a picnic near the river. They throw in their handlines and catch a barramundi that they bake in coals for tea. When they get back home, they learn how to prepare the leaves and roots and finally they get a chance to weave a mat by themselves.
Collecting colour, a memorable story of how traditional baskets and mats are made, is told from the viewpoint of a small white girl. The text takes the reader through the whole process, clearly showing the complexity of the materials and the expertise that is needed to produce a work of art. What makes this picture book so outstanding is the use of beautiful vibrant colour and bold figures. Dunstan colours her pages with vivid reds and oranges and all the shades of green and the figures of all the characters look so warm and happy.
Reading this book made me want to go out and purchase a lovely piece of art made from pandanus leaves.
Pat Pledger