I have just returned from Canberra and a marvellous children’s book conference where I had the opportunity to see Peter Carnavas dressed up as a pirate doing his thing with two other funny authors. Pirate Pete threw the lollies into the crowds, barefooted and patch eyed, a wicked grin and beaut sense of comical play. He’s a story teller and writes and illustrates books for children and the grown ups in their lives.
Peter Carnavas lives quite close to me in Flaxton on the Blackall Ranges, a beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. As a humble man, father and adoring husband, Peter has written many books to convey messages about family, friendships and resilience. One of the first picture books I bought and still love reading to my grand children is The Children Who Loved Books, a warm and moving celebration of books and the way in which they bring us together.
The book I would like to share with readers is one that I purchased in Canberra. It shows the magic of Peter’s style. It’s called, A Quiet Girl. With a title reflecting solitude, serenity and stillness, it’s no wonder Peter has captivated his young readers and their adults, inviting them to step inside Mary’s world where words are whispered, and senses are explored.
Mary is indeed quiet. She enjoys nature, but her parents don’t notice. They are too busy talking on the phone, being loud to realise that their sweet daughter goes missing.
‘Have you been here the whole time?’
‘Yes,’ whispered Mary.
‘But we didn’t hear you,’ said Dad, until we were…’
‘Quiet,’ said Mary.
This beautifully illustrated book with birds on the inside and back covers, shows the skill of Peter Carnavas as he unfolds his story. Gentle soothing colours capture a tranquil scene. Small text near the pictures suggests a quieter conversation. White space on the pages of this picture book allows the reader to feel the gentle emotions of Mary as she plays on a swing, smells the freshly cut grass and pays attention to a fine thread of spider silk. Soft greens and pastels evoke calm. What a delightful story. A real gem. A book to be read with a quiet voice.
In our busy digital, screen age, it is sometimes vital to step aside from the rush and pull of life. To escape to the green forest or bush, to the spaces in parks that are limited by people. To hear the breeze. Feel the flower petal. Touch the feathers on the ground or as Mary does in the story, ‘hear the soft sigh of the sleeping dog.’
Recently my grand daughter Audrey and I have spent an hour reading our own books side by side on the back deck at her house. It’s nice. We brought the bird in the cage out too so that she could feel the air. I marvel at the way books can connect hearts, minds and souls.
Thank you Peter for creating such a lovely book.