I'm a bit confused by some titles in the latest crop of picture books.
Clearly influenced by the likes of Neil Gaiman, they are dark (ish), perhaps provocative (ish), and more like graphic novels than picture books. Or are they?
I'm thinking mostly of The Three Fishing Brothers Gruff, by a "young graphic designer and surfer", Ben Galbraith. It has a new (ish) look about it, high production quality (although it could do with a couple of extra commas here and there) and it's clearly very hip. I imagine it's selling like hotcakes.
But at which age group is it aimed?
It's not a kid-friendly read-aloud, and the reading age is quite advanced, even though the words are few. There's a message so didactic that even this reader, who feels very strongly about over-fishing and the environment, felt it to be OTT. Many kids would feel a bit strange, too, about the fact that all three brothers have to die to prove an environmental point.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the book - I just wonder about its market.
I could ask the same about Uncle Jack, by Kate De Goldi and Jacqui Colley. I loved Clubs (more graphic novel than picture book) but I just don't get Uncle Jack, its target readers or the impact it would have on young kids. Maybe it's me.
I see some reviewers have asked this too, and perhaps it's more to do with the industry (and we readers) coming to terms with the rise and rise of the graphic novel.
Still, Uncle Jack, I suspect, will stand the test of time and find an older readership than is implied by its pitch. The astute Ms De Goldi knows what she's doing, and perhaps people who have bought it as a picture book for young children will find that they enjoy it more as they grow older.
The Three Brothers Gruff will no doubt win design awards, but I'm not sure that kids will warm to it.
Hopefully I'll be proved wrong.