TINTINNABULA by Margo Lanagan
Kirkus Star


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 12
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Open-ended text and illustrations allow for infinite readings while maintaining deep feeling in Lanagan’s (The Brides of Rollrock Island, 2012, etc.) debut picture book.

The door-shaped cutout in the front cover leads readers directly into landscape-patterned endpapers and frontmatter, while the extra-large trim size heightens the intensity of Cai’s initial illustrations, which are dominated by dark red skies, gigantic, black, four-legged creatures that chase a small human figure, and jagged-edged architectural debris. These dramatic scenes slowly give way to lighter, softer-hued, sprawling landscapes accented with white as the pale-skinned narrator describes her own personal haven called Tintinnabula. There, she says, “soft rains fall and silver, / …soft bells ring and sweetly, / distantly, melancholically.” The narrator’s movement from “times of drought and wind… / and stress and argument, / … / and…times of fear” to “green, breathing, grassy hills” reaches a transitional moment in a spread in which the jagged, ruined stonework and four-legged creatures appear distant, fading into negative space as a sequence of vignettes offers glimpses of the narrator’s progress toward a lush green land filled with trees—and fewer man-made structures. Readers will be left wondering: Does she physically travel, or is this an internal, emotional journey? What—and where—is she traveling away from? Can, or will, others join her?

A moving portrayal of resilience that pairs exquisite free verse with evocative, richly textured drawings. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-74297-525-2
Page count: 24pp
Publisher: Little Hare/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2018


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