Bitter sweet

MEG MCKINLAY’S latest children’s book DrawnonwarD: a back to front to back tale of hopelessness and hope, starts with a dark view of the world.

“[I hope] you know that the world will always be gloomy and dark,” writes the Hilton author. “There is no light on the horizon and it is foolish to think you can change anything at all.”

But by the second half of the slender book, McKinlay’s dire denunciations fade and are replaced by a positive and empowering message for young readers.

“You can change anything at all,” she writes. “It is foolish to think there is no light on the horizon and the world will always be gloomy and dark. I hope you know that.”

McKinlay gives her young readers credit for being able to understand the book’s message.

• Artist/illustrator Andrew Frazer. Photo by Heather Blakey

“Kids know what books do, because they are not silly,” she says.

“There isn’t a kid out there who hasn’t been weighed down; I’m not introducing them to anything they have not experienced.

“I remember having these thoughts and thinking I was the only one.”

McKinlay’s prose is made all the more powerful by illustrator Andrew Frazer’s accompanying drawings.

This is his first foray into literature and he’s perhaps better known for his murals, and a recent art exhibition at the prestigious Turner Galleries in Perth.

His part-rabbit, part-wallaby creatures are initially burdened by McKinlay’s dark narrative, but by the end of the book they are happy and blithe.

Even the words have been turned into illustrations, with various hand-lettered fonts adding gravitas to Mckinlay’s words.

“I wanted to cause people to take a bit more time to read and to help digest the words,” Frazer says.

DrawnonwarD is available at at bookstores across Perth.

McKinlay and Frazer will be at the Fremantle Arts Centre, November 8, for The Fremantle Press Criminally Good Great Big Book Read.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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