‘On Tuesday at kinder under the mulberry tree, Izzy Jones stared over at me. ‘You’re brown, Belle!’ she said, her eyes big-saucer-wide. I said ‘Yeah, I am, and I flashed her a smile.’
Wide Big World, by award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke, examines and then celebrates difference in all its many and varied forms.
Throughout the pages of this vibrant picture book, school friends, Izzy and Belle take a wondrous journey together, discovering all the differences that surround them.
People are different. Some are hairy, tall or cute, the sun is red-hot-brilliant, and the rain is cool and clean, and so it continues. Their teacher Mr Jay helps them along the way by pointing out that nature is ‘smart and wonderfully wild’ in the way she has created diversity.
The message is clear, let’s celebrate all our differences and enjoy them.
‘Then I said difference is everywhere, just look and see. Izz, this whole-wide-big-world is wondrous-unique.’
Parents who have read Maxine Beneba Clarke’s memoir will know that the initial conversation between Izzy and Bell is taken from her own experience and she has taken this as a starting point, turning it into something that is really positive.
Wide Big World has been stunningly illustrated by award-winning Isobel Knowles who hand painted and collaged cut each page. One of our favourite picture books this year, you will soon see when you are reading it to your little ones that this is a wonderful – and important- message to share about inclusivity and the value of difference. Wide Big World is the perfect book to read just prior to starting pre-school or school, but middle primary would also get something out of it.
If you are a picture book lover – and who isn’t – buy Wide Big World for the kids but also for yourself, grab a cup of tea and spend some time indulging yourself by pouring through the beautiful, colourful pages. It would also make a special gift for all the little kids in your life.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Maxine’s short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Meanjin, The Saturday Paper and The Big Issue. Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015 and the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize. She was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists for 2015. Maxine has published three poetry collections including Carrying the World, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry 2017 and was shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award. The Hate Race, a memoir about growing up black in Australia won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural NSW Award 2017 and was shortlisted for an ABIA, an Indie Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and Stella Prize. The Patchwork Bike, Maxine’s first picture book with Van T. Rudd was a CBCA Honour Book for 2017.
Isobel Knowles is a Melbourne based award-winning artist and animator. Her multidisciplinary practice spans short film, interactive installation, cross-platform performance, music, painting, photography and illustration. Her most recent achievements include winning the 2010 Premier of QLD’s National New Media Art Award, being given an Award of Distinction at the 2012 Ars Electronica Festival and has published two children’s books Owl Know How and Too Much for Turtle.