Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

cover image

Scholastic, 2011. ISBN978 1 742630728.
(Ages: All) Recommended. Picture book. Environment. The watery wash and pencil drawings of Bruce Whatley are an enticing counterpoint to Jackie French's spare writing, in which the power of the floods to destroy much of riverside Brisbane is evoked in this magnificent picture book. From the beginnings, where gentle rain falls, to its becoming incessant and surging down rivers, breaking their banks forcing people onto their rooftops, the power of the water is obvious in both word and illustration. Whatley's pictures go from green to brown as the water swirls up soil and debris, while French's words remind us that people are always there, volunteering to fill sandbags, helping people from their roofs, ferrying them across swollen rivers.
Part way through the story, the wood and metal boardwalk is loosed from its moorings and begins to float into the Brisbane River, threatening whatever is in its path. A small but determined tug boat chugs out and nudges it into the middle of the river where it washes out to sea, safe from causing harm. The tug, a metaphor for all the brave volunteers who took it upon themselves in those days to feed, house and clothe the many made homeless by the floods, or those filling sandbags and rowing the boats, cheered the hearts of all who watched.
In a forward by Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland, the reader is told that every school in Australia will receive a free copy of this book, while profits made from the sale of this book, will be donated to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal. At the end of the book, both Jackie French and Bruce Whatley give more information about the book and its development.
This is a most pertinent picture book, not only telling a rousing story with beautiful illustrations but one which could be used over and over in the classroom where environment, sustainability, disasters and particularly, floods, are under discussion.
Fran Knight