Sunday, 23 April 2017

My Brother by Dee Huxley

My Brother is a CBCA shortlisted book that is all about family. It is written and illustrated by Dee Huxley, with the visual characters drawn by her son Oliver and the book designed by her daughter Tiffany. My Brother is dedicated to Morgan.


The story is also very personal.
This book came about because of the loss of a loved one in tragic circumstances, & our world changed forever. It is both a tribute & a release. A tribute to a beautiful, empathetic soul, who touched so many lives, young & old, & who will be loved & missed forever. A release, albeit sorrowful, to be able to make this book for him, & us, & others like us, & a hope that he is somewhere beautiful & safe now. The main character, a metaphorical gentle creature, represents the emotional journey of loss, disbelief, grief, but also a journey of hope.

Everything about this story is carefully considered. From the placement of the text on the page, to the spacing between words and within certain words. The poem-like text that uses the language of grief and loss so sparsely and evocatively. To the black and white graphite illustrations that are full of detail and pathos. Colour is gradually added in the final few pages to offer hope and some lightening of the mood.

The personal nature of this work suffuses every page, every word.
Woven through each of the drawings are, as Dee says, images of thoughts and memories related ‘to childhood, adolescence, & the few years of adulthood … resulting in a surreal, nonsensical thread throughout the book’. She adds, ‘We know their meaning, others can form their own interpretation’.

After reading about Morgan's murder here, the fragile, haunting beauty of this book leaps off the pages and into your heart. The pain, distress and grief that the Huxley family have endured over the past few years is unimaginable. Being able to use their collective creative sensibilities on this project must have been both a cathartic experience as well as another step along their road towards healing.

All the quotes in this post are from the Working Title Press teacher notes.

5 comments:

  1. ...this one sounds like a winner to me!

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    1. My Brother is shortlisted for the Picture Book award which focuses on the illustrators work. In some ways this is disappointing because with the way all three Huxley's have worked together to bring this book together, it could so easily have been worthy of a the Early Childhood award as well which is more about the collaboration and unity of purpose.

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  2. Oh wow, I had no idea what this book was about. I'd seen the title on the list but that's it. I will be intrigued to read. What a tragedy to befall a family, it's almost impossible to imagine how you could move forward after such a horrendous and senseless loss. It's incredible to make a picture book from it.

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    1. I had no idea about the depth of the family tragedy until I read the Teachers Notes which made me twig that the death of the brother was more than just an accident or illness (both bad enough in themselves of course). Google did the rest. Curiously, given the Balmain connection, I don't remember hearing anything about this case at all.

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  3. My name is jayden im 9 years old i go to bundaberg south state school im in grade 4 iv read this book before its a nice book

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