An Artist’s Eyes
Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
When Mo looks at the sea, she sees “dazzling duck-egg blue, a swirl of peacocks and the inky indigo of evening” but all Jo sees is blue.
When Mo looks at the forest, she sees “shiny apple-green, the lime of gooseberries and the springy zinginess of moss” and shadows that make the green go darker. But all Jo sees is green, making him more and more frustrated because he can’t see what Mo does. But Mo is patient and gradually Jo begins to use his imagination although instead of seeing the shades and hues that Mo does, he starts to see something different…
This is a powerful yet gentle story that reminds the reader that two people can look at exactly the same thing and see it differently- that each of us has artist’s eyes that are shaped by our imagination, experience and perceptions and it can take us a while to align them. Monnet’s watercolour interpretation of Tosdevin’s lyrical text is enchanting and with their shapes, lines and colour choices the reader will view them through Mo’s eyes or Jo’s eyes or their own eyes…
At the age where our children are exploring a new independence and making a wider friendship group, they look at those around them and think that being like them is the key to “success:” and they try to change who they are to be like those they admire. So this familiar message of being comfortable in your own skin, being the unique individual you are, perhaps even being the ‘you’ that others admire and seek to emulate is important and cannot be shared too often. So this iteration of that truth is not only important but being a completely different interpretation gives it added reach and recognition. Whether our eyes kiss in the corners or speak to the stars, sees shapes or colours or sparkles, what we see is unique to us and is as valid as what our neighbour sees.