Title: The Tomorrow Book
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Sue Degennaro
Publisher: Harper Collins
Themes: Environment, Recycling, Alternative Power, Pollution, Children, Hope, Books, Education, Animals, Stewardship, Power of People, Change, Tomorrow
“This book was written on a solar powered computer, in an orchard where wombats and other wildlife wander, while I ate scones and cooked in my solar oven and apricots grown on moisture captured from the night air” – Jackie French
One of the beautiful things about picture books and children’s literature is the way that different illustrators imagine and portray the worlds that the words inspire and speak of. I’m a huge fan of Jeannie Baker and the way that her work is able to imagine the world around us and the way that her collages tight rope walk across art and literature for both child and adult.
Enter the stunningly created world of Sue Degennaro and Jackie French, created of inspired and simple stories of inventions and hopes of a cleaner and better world and portrayed by an illustrator who takes all of this very seriously.
Both Jackie and Sue thought heavily about how this book would be written and illustrated, it would be written on a computer powered by the sun, it will be written in amongst the very nature and beauty that they write, it will be illustrated using recycled material, not stuff that they will have to go and source, but only recycled materials from the confines of Sue’s house.
The illustrator, Sue living in the big city but trying to live sustainably with her own veggie patch and heavy use of public transport and bikes, the author, Jackie an avid gardener, watcher of creation, nature enthusiast living in the Araluen Valley (NSW) in a house that her and her husband built themselves using a waterwheel and solar panel to power the house.
So… I guess I should talk about the story.
Or should I call it a letter of hope?
Once upon a time there lived a prince, when he was a child he crawled into the library and found himself a home. Amongst the books and the shelves he played and created his own worlds. He loved book so much that he read them all and wondered why the world outside his palace never looked like the books that inspired him.
Perhaps reel life could be improved…
When the king and queen pack their campervan and head off for a holiday they leave the prince in charge, and very quickly the children of the town and the prince partner up to improve real life. Using the knowledge and stories from the books he loved so much they start to create inventions that save water, help vegetables grow, provide alternatives to petrol fuel, recycling old junk and eventually…
Eventually they may change the world for everyone to enjoy.
If there’s one thing that I love about picture books is that they level the playing field.
Children are almost constantly left out of discussion and dialogue because they’re not able to read the latest Tim Flannery novel, or perhaps the latest Clive Hamilton research. Adults have artificially created a world where there are certain things that children can talk about and understand and certain things that they can’t. Literature gives power to adults and seems to keep it from the kids.
Picture books however, they level the playing field, they can play with adults imaginations as much as they can the kids imagination, and this book is one that can give power back to the kids.
In the book Jackie places the children in the centre as the story’s heroes, it’s a young prince and a young group of children who put these inventions together, who create the solar panel cars, who work towards sharing the world with everyone and thing.
I mean, if the adults aren’t gonna do it, you guys are going to have to do it yourselves, it’s your task to change things, but you don’t have to wait until you’re old Jackie tells us. No, instead you can do it now, you can go out and change it now, and perhaps because you’re children you may succeed.
Created in an inventive way this story only uses examples and ideas that can already be reality, it’s not imagination, it’s not entirely fiction and it’s not entirely non-fiction.
How much do you want things to change?