Review of ‘The Boy on the Page’

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Review of ‘The Boy on the Page’

We went to the launch of ‘The Boy on the Page’ on the weekend. I’ve had my review of this book written for nearly a month now but I was holding off, as I knew the launch would be divine…and oh glory me it was indeed!

Author/illustrator Peter Carnavas and his family are a creative bunch and the launch at Avid Reader West End had live music, crocheted granny blankets, loads of children and even a felt story version of ‘The Boy on the Page’. All of Peter’s books have been launched at Avid Reader and this wonderful bookshop is the perfect match for his books, all of which are just a little bit different from the norm and stand out from the crowd. PudStar had been looking forward to this launch all week and enjoyed every minute of it, and even The Wild Thing managed to not completely disgrace herself. Dan was pretty impressed to meet the ‘Jessica’s Box’ guy as it’s still one of his and Puds favourite bedtime books. Spend two minutes reading a bit more about Peter and his other books here.

So what about the actual book? Does it live up to its launch? Well there were a few tears from people at the launch and there were a few tears from me when I read this book for the first time. I suspect that it may even end up being read as much as ‘Jessica’s Box’ is in our house – and this is a big call.

The Boy on the Page

‘The Boy on the Page’

Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas

Publisher: New Frontier Publishing

Age Range: Early childhood – adulthood

Themes: life, love, family, philosophy, thoughts, questions, life events.

Peter has said that the story has shades of his favourite film, ‘Life is Beautiful’, but I’m pretty convinced that ‘The Boy on the Page’ is semi-autobiographical. The main character grows from a boy to a man throughout the pages of the story and he does all the things expected of him and he finds his place in the world; yet he still wonders ‘why am I here?’ I love that Peter Carnavas and New Frontier Publishing were brave enough to ask this question in a book targeted at an early childhood audience.

One quiet morning, a small boy landed on the page. At first, there was nothing else.

Then very slowly, a world began to appear.

New life emerged. Things started to grow…and so did the boy.

Few author/illustrators could tackle the ‘why are we here’ question and manage to produce a picture book that is full of love and laughter whilst encouraging our littlest people to ponder the meaning of life and the joy that comes with being with those we love. In all his books Carnavas writes of the issues that really matter, while his illustrations add the whimsy, humour and magic required to keep each story at the perfect level for young children. Peter is the master of ‘white space’ on a page; I have never enjoyed white space as much as in his books. One suspects that his seemingly simple illustrations are the result of hours (months?) of careful sketching, re-sketching and removing of every extraneous detail until they are perfect.

Give this book to your husband for Christmas. Every dad needs this book. As does every little person. As we do with ‘Jessica’s Box’, this is a story you will return to often and think about long after you’ve turned to the final endpaper.

There are some great teaching notes here. I LOVE the idea of giving children a piece of paper and asking them to wonder about what might happen if they landed on that page. What would they draw around them? What really matters to them?

How did the launch end up? Well Peter is an EXTREMELY.CALM.PERSON (which I am not. Really? You don’t sense that in my over enthusiastic, rambling writing style?!). One feels calm being in his mere presence. The Wild Thing clearly sensed this calm and was pretty good really – even her dancing to his music was a calm hip sway rather than her usual head banging style. We don’t take her out in public very often. See that nickname? She lives up to it well. Later, as we were having our Avid Reader coffee and breakfast (highly recommend the spicy beans and fetta) a delightful lady who used to teacher with Peter Carnavas came up to our table. She said that she’d been watching The Wild Thing throughout the launch and thought she was gorgeous and a great dancer. The Wild Thing beamed. I nearly burst into tears. PudStar rolled her eyes. Dan wiped the stressed sweat from his brow, looked at me and said ‘See? She’s not so bad!’. Made my weekend. We’ll all be back for the next Peter Carnavas book launch and another hour of calmly celebrating a beautiful book.

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If you live in Brisbane and would like to purchase ‘The Boy on the Page’ I highly recommend a trip to Avid Reader (for the book and for coffee and for soaking up some West End style literary vibes).

If you would like to purchase the book online you can find it here.

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1 Comment

  1. Judy on Oct 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for this great review. Couldn’t make this book launch, but we have been to one of Pete’s previous book launches at Avid Reader, so it felt very personal – like we were there. Think I even know the teacher who spoke to you! Love all Pete’s books, but my personal favourite is also ‘Jessica’s Box’. Can’t wait to read this one!
    Judy ( currently in Peru)

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