Friday, 1 June 2012

Lunchtime, by Rebecca Cobb

LunchtimeRebecca Cobb is my new favourite illustrator. She has previously worked with Orange prize-winner Helen Dunmore, illustrating two of her books, The Islanders and The Ferrybirds, and later this year will be releasing a book with the Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson.

Lunchtime is lovely. The little girl who stars in the book is far too busy to eat her lunch - she’s not really hungry and she’d much rather carry on with her important work than go and eat. But her mother insists, so she sits at the table but steadfastly refuses to touch her lunch. While she’s sitting there, being all stubborn, zoo animals star to appear under and around the table, a bear, a crocodile. At first she thinks they’re sniffing out her, but it turns out they’re much more interested in sniffing out her lunch.

The pictures are simple but engaging, and I’m guessing they are pencil drawn as they exude basic lines and brushstrokes. The animals in particular are lovely and very expressive. I can just picture it all happening in real life. The story is simple and effective, but also a bit ambiguous. The little girl lets the animals eat her lunch, seeing as they’re so keen and she’s so determined that she doesn’t want it. From my boring adult perspective, I took this to mean that the girl actually ate it herself, thanks to the animals persuasiveness, but that she used the animals as an excuse to maintain her initial refusal. But, later on, there are consequences to her duplicity: by the time supper comes around, she is starving, her tummy grumbling. Presumably, if she had eaten her lunch, this wouldn’t be the case? Which makes me wonder if her lunchtime visitors weren’t so imaginary after all...

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