Friday, 26 June 2015

The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade


Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys
Scribe (Penguin Random House) hardback, NZ$30

I’m not brave enough to be Captain Starfish,” whispers young Alfie.

A child’s fear is a powerful eroding force. The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade is a gentle Australian picture book which seeks to ease the pain of apprehension and offer a way forward.  Faced with appearing at a party or even a fancy-dress parade, Alfie becomes anxious.

In his dreams – beautifully interpreted in Allison Colpoys’ paintings – he feels that he is “carrying the ocean all on his own.”

Caring and sympathetic, Alfie’s mother takes him on a remarkable trip where he can overcome his fears and find new inspiration. [Yes, I’m concealing the surprise but the title gives a hint.] Young readers will find Alfie’s resolution is a single positive step in a long journey. They will also find pleasure in the tiny details that mean so much to Alfie as he learns to handle his emotions.

Look carefully at the passengers in Alfie’s bus; every page of this charming book rewards a young reader’s careful re-reading.

Trevor Agnew

 This review first appeared in Your Weekend magazine on 28th March 2015.

Publisher details:

The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade (2015) by Davina Bell, ill. Allison Colpoys, Scribe, Melbourne, 32 pages, hardback, NZ$30
ISBN 978-1-925106-20-6

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