Review of ‘Little Blue’
Written and Illustrated by Gaye Chapman
Age Range: Early Childhood – Middle Primary
Themes: Adventure, feelings, friends, imagination, grandparents, art
Awards: 2009 Queensland Premier’s Literature Awards, Children’s Book Category
Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book 2009
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
I rather adore this book – in fact that is an understatement. It could be that I also rather adore old crockery, so what could be better than old crockery and a gorgeous story rolled into one? The idea for this story is quirky and original; it is the complete package for me.
Click on title links or cover image to purchase
‘Little Blue’ is a retelling of the Willow pattern story, the blue and white crockery with intricate Asian patterns and scenes that many of you will be familiar with. It was designed by Thomas Minton around 1790 and has been a favourite of collectors since that time. Over the years there have been many stories told about the origin of the images on the plates, and a number of books are based on these stories.
In ‘Little Blue’ a young boy finds a young girl (Little Blue) lost in the forest outside his home. The young boy offers to take her to his house, and when they arrive there the boys grandmother is speechless with delight on seeing Little Blue. As is turns out Little Blue is a ‘chink’ from the grandmothers Willow plate. There are clues throughout the story as to who Little Blue really is and young children will delight in uncovering these clues on subsequent re readings.
Gaye Chapman’s illustrations are as intricate as the Willow plates themselves…the endpapers of the book are my favourites.
Around the time this book was published I was at a Children’s Book Council conference in Melbourne and the publisher, Little Hare had a stand with posters of Little Blue and gorgeous postcards. Slightly lunatic style, I begged the poor man for copies of each. He gave me quite a bundle, probably to get rid of me quickly! ChickPea’s middle name is Willow so these posters and postcards now hang in her room, along with her miniature Willow tea set, a present from Nonna and Papa for her first birthday.
PudStar and I often read ‘Little Blue’ and then have a cup of berry tea using Chickpea’s tea set. It’s quite fragile but as PudStar has pointed out; if it breaks we can pretend it’s like in the book.
The original large format hardback is below
The gift edition is here
Follow it up in the home, classroom or library:
- Look at your crockery at home for other ‘characters’ that might possibly have a life beyond their plate or cup! PudStar is fairly convinced that The Little Red Hen from her favourite babycino cup visits our chickens in the backyard at night. She checks most morning to see that The Little Red Hen has returned to her place on the cup.
- Make a Willow pattern plate on a paper plate. There is a nice template on the Little Big Book Club site. At school I created a whole wall of plates with this template: each child completing one until we had a lovely display of mis matched crockery.
- Create a blue and white display or scene for Little Blue to enjoy on your dressing table or in your library or classroom.
- Create a collage of blue and white materials and paints.
- Discuss and/or write a list of words about how Little Blue must have felt when she was lost, and then a list of words for when she was found.
- Read some other books which Gaye Chapman has illustrated like ‘My Sister Olive’ and ‘Precious Little’. Compare her illustrative style.
- Draw a map of Little Blue’s journey home.
- Recreate the Willow plate on round card, laminate and cut up to make a puzzle.