Written by Yvonne Mes & Illustrated by Sandra Eterovic
Meet… Sidney Nolan is a well crafted story which follows painter Sidney Nolan’s life. It starts with an earnest little boy, who lifts his grandfather’s tales into his imagination. Next, a young Sidney tries to follow his dream of capturing his fascination for bushranger, Ned Kelly onto canvas. And last, through the realities of adulthood, his desperation in continuing to paint the world around him. So convincing is the collaboration between author Yvonne Mes and illustrator Sandra Eterovic that from the onset I’ve perched myself alongside little Sidney watching bushranger Ned Kelly striding through the streets of Glenrowan.
This picture book gallops across Victoria’s landscape using imagination to power oral stories and giving future Sidneys easy access to Australia’s historical narratives. The heart warming page of him finding sanctuary in books empowers Sidney and others towards their destiny.
This bold and brassy book, bulldozes forward like Sidney. And like his determination, the co-authors* have painstakingly researched moments of Sidney’s childhood through to adulthood. They have created an historical understanding that enriches a reader’s knowledge. Even the timeline from 1917-1992 attests to how well the essence of the story has been distilled to entertain and inform us of one of Australia’s most renowned artists. Couple this with the vividness and detail of the illustrations – students from grade 1 to 7 and even adults will learn much.
This story has multi-layered interpretations. It uses text and illustrative narratives to reveal the story, symbolism to symbolise the unwavering belief that the power of stories gives you the confidence to believe in yourself. And metaphors like ‘read mountains of books’, ‘rivers of poems’ has us wanting to be in that library with Sidney. The illustrative symbolism with the upside-down Sidney Nolan continuing to paint no matter how topsy turvy his world, is one of my favourite images of determination and belief in oneself.
This picture book is part of the ‘Meet… series’ from Penguin Books Australia about the early young men and women who went on to shape Australia’s history.
Meet… Sidney Nolan is available from publisher Penguin Australia and any good bookstores.
*co-authors – creators of word and picture narratives
Front cover and Sandra Eterovic’s photo courtesy of Google Images.
Life’s too short without good books. MPB