Andy Griffiths once defined imagination as ‘image + nation’, meaning our creative ideas are essentially the result of images we’ve harvested from a variety of places, experiences, and times…nations. I like to think of these collections as memory troves. Either way the imagination is treasure. And no one it seems understands this better than, Snoozette, the latest beguiling character to emerge from the Red Paper Kite publishing house.
Snoozette is a picture book as big as a small scrape book. The size suits it well for the artwork that unfolds as you peel back each page is magnificent and worthy of the generous visual impact this slightly larger format allows.
Secreted within each page is, Snoozette, a contentedly cloistered, cat-loving, tea-drinking individual with a penchant for nodding off. Her days follow an ordered melancholic regularity that matches the dreary weather and given her susceptibility to snoozing, we begin to suspect she may be afflicted with the kind of malaise that is not easily overcome by a mere cup of tea.
Then, one peculiar afternoon, whilst collecting the mail, Snoozette starts walking across the sky. It’s a journey into the surreal, which she seems acutely aware of, simultaneously bewildered and enchanted by. She handpicks tufts of cloud revealing blue sky and sunshine; an erstwhile rare occurrence. Following the release of sunshine she begins to drizzle raindrops into perfume bottles, perhaps for later use. Her formerly bleak horizons expand to expose fields of new woolly friends. Snoozette is delighted albeit flummoxed by this marvellous meteoric transformation.
Just as she is savouring fairy floss cloud formations, a mad wind threatens to swallow Snoozette. It churns around her, finally depositing her into an uncomfortable soup of cold wet confusion. A storm is brewing. Whistling fills the air jolting Snoozette awake, who is now ready for a cup of tea and a good lie down as many are wont to after adventures of extreme whimsy.
Snoozette is an exquisite journey through the subconscious, a deliciously elegant expedition of a dream sequence like no other. French author, Valentine Paradis’ narrative swirls luxuriantly around the tongue like a velvety hot chocolate. Brief but powerful word clusters pin mood and establish Snoozette’s eccentricities, She brewed melancholic tea blends to match the weather. Spoke French to her lunatic cat…all divinely supported by Caterina Metti’s atmospheric-laden illustrations.
There’s a touch of Salvador Dali surrealism in Metti’s drawings; a hint of illogical beauty coupled with precise detail. The passing of Snoozette’s dream time is measured by her alarm clock, seen in most spreads, yet never altering its hour. Images are reflected within each picture; flower heads double as butterflies for instance. Adult readers may be astute enough to locate a sprinkling of other quirky anomalies cheekily hidden within each illustration, a kind of clue trail that may only make sense once you reach the end or after several readings. But of course this is what makes this mystical story so enchanting and so much fun.
Both words and images simultaneously swirl and jerk across every page, fusing reality with imagination in an absolutely wondrous and sophisticated way. The caution to never end a story with the premise of it ‘it was all just a dream’ is deliriously debunked by Snoozette. This imaginative tale is a feast for the senses, thought provoking and playful that will fascinate older lovers of picture books and all those who have a little trouble coming to grips with reality.
And for the burgeoning surrealists artists? A handful of line drawings by Metti included after the story waiting for you to colour in. Parfait!
Author: Valentine Paradis
Illustrator: Caterina Metti
Publisher: Red Kite Publishing, $26.99
Publication Date: June 2019
ISBN: 978 0 6484852 09
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book
Buy the Book: Booktopia, Boomerang Books