Review of ‘Scarlett, Starlet’
Written and illustrated by Emma Quay
Publisher: Harper Collins – ABC Books
Age Range: Early Childhood
Themes: dance; performing; dogs; family.
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I have long loved the work of Emma Quay, some of the favourites in this house being ‘Nudie Rudie’, ‘Shrieking Violet’ (which we gifted to little Violet next door also), ‘Bear and Chook’, ‘Good Night, Me’ and ‘Emily and Alfie’. ‘Scarlett, Starlet’ is her latest addition to the bookshelf, and the book trailer below is just a little bit gorgeous.
Emma used pencil crayon, ink and photoshop for the illustrations in ‘Scarlett, Starlet’. The dominant colours of red, grey and yellow are vivid and, as always, Emma makes excellent use of white space – with some pages mostly a clear background except for a close up of the larger than life Scarlett (often with Jazzy Jo-Jo, her dog!). In contrast, the pages at the theatre are chock full of children stretching and twirling and waiting for their turn on the stage – with Scarlett looking a little over-awed , clearly realising that it wasn’t just her who dreamed of being on the stage. I love that illustrators of great talent, of whom Emma Quay is one, can create incredible expression and personality in their characters with seemingly simple lines. In ‘Scarlett, Starlet’ it is the eyes of the characters which convey so much, with the placement of the pupil changing expressions from delight to concern to shyness to excitement – utterly amazing and a good thing to point out to young readers on subsequent readings of the book.
This is a story for every little child who loves tip-tapping at home. Almost all children have an a innate love of music and dance…and love performing for the ultimate audience…family members who love and adore you. Fewer children take that leap and twirl into the spotlight on a real stage, where everything is bigger and brighter and perhaps a little bit overwhelming. ‘Starlett, Starlet’ is for the home dancers and the stage dancers – it’s just all rhythm and tip-tapping and clapping and fun.
Ultimately Scarlett does indeed shine on the stage and the applause at the end rumbles in her ears and she knows that her mummy will be smiling, and her daddy will be tapping his foot – because they just can’t help it…and Scarlett feels just like a star. This is no child star story, with stage parents and lots of costume changes. This is a gorgeous celebration of all things that performance for young children should be about; sparkle; diversity; the sheer delight of performing for an audience; little focus on ability; lots of focus on fun and children knowing that somewhere out there in the audience are people who are glowing with pride, just for them.
Highly Recommended and another of Emma Quay’s creations that shines brightly.
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