Review: Hello Jimmy!
Hues of winter blues and greys are enlivened by splashes of magnificent emerald green that are, quite simply, Jimmy. Follow the smattering of Jimmy’s green feathers and you’ll soon reach Jack’s story. Jack stays at his Dad’s house now and then. These visits are often strained and painfully quiet as though being together is more of a requirement than a pleasure. Jack wonders about the silences and his dad. Are these symptoms of loneliness, an emotion Jack knows well? How can Jack change these uneasy encounters with someone he is supposed to love?
After Dad brings home a stray parrot named Jimmy, Jack feels even less worthy of his father’s love. Jimmy is loud and funny and clever, and full of surprises that amuse and endear him to everyone he meets. Jimmy fills Jack’s father’s house with noise and the type of presence Jack wishes he had causing Jack to retreat into silence and improbable thoughts. He simply cannot deal with anymore ‘surprises’ in his young life, especially ones that seem to claim the very last vestiges of his father’s heart.
When fanciful thoughts actualise into one missing parrot, Jack sets out to regain his father’s companion but discovers something much more surprising along the way.
Hello Jimmy!, the latest picture by the supremely talented, Anna Walker depicts the essence of loneliness and transition. Whilst it is clear that Jack and his father are experiencing the fallout of a recent marriage breakdown, these feelings of loss, confusion, alienation and ineptness are emotional states of being that many children and their families will recognise.
Jack yearns for stability and a sense of permanency after his have been rocked by the sudden and irreversible change to his family. Jimmy’s presence represents further change yet conversely, Jimmy’s ‘accidental’ escape and subsequent disappearance triggers new beginnings and renewed love and understanding.
Jimmy is raucous, delightfully cheeky and audacious – the life of every party. He is everything Jack is not. Even after he is gone, the colour of Jimmy’s personality: a feather here and there, swaths of parkland grass, and sweeping bush scapes, remains as a reminder that change is not necessarily bad or lasting; that with a little searching, the chasms within a relationship may be spanned.
Tender prose, gorgeous artwork and a blue page that is at once desperately shocking and exhilarating (and unsurprisingly one of Walker’s favourite spreads), Hello Jimmy! warms the heart the way only a father’s hug on a wet day can. Perfect for those feeling alone and a little uncertain of their position in the world.
Author: Anna Walker
Illustrator: Anna Walker
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $24.99
Publication Date: September 2020
For ages: 4 – 8
Type: Picture Book