Tintinnabula by Margo Lanagan and Rovina Cai

cover image

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2017. ISBN 9781742975252
(Age: 10+) Recommended. In this picture book for older readers, Margo Lanagan takes a young woman on a journey to Tintinabula in times of stress and distress.
In wild times and in wartime,
in times of fear and illness, I go
to Tintinnabula, where soft rains fall.

Tintinnabula is a story about moving from discomfort to peace,
from violence and uncertainty to a still, sure place.
It reminds us that our best friend in hard times
can often be ourselves.
(Back cover)
The reader is carried along with the young woman in the story as she flees the vision of monsters in a red background. She moves through windswept trees, past ruins and devastated lands until she finally reaches a quiet place where the grass is green and silver rains fall. The term Tintinabula means small tinkling bells and the young woman follows their sound to find that final good place that she needs.
Rovina Cai has produced memorable illustrations which swirl and twirl, brilliantly showing in reds the fear and need of the woman as she tries to find a peaceful spot to rest from the violence that surrounds her. This locale is depicted in greens and pale yellows, and the end paper finally has a glow of brighter yellow, leaving the reader with the notion that things can be brighter.
The idea that people in trouble can find a peaceful place within themselves is one that will resonate with readers and will be a comfort to those who are having problems, be they ones of mental illness or of war and violence. The ideas are complex and the book would be best suited to adults and teens or used by an adult with upper primary children.
Pat Pledger