Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Betty Goes Bananas

Betty goes bananas

By Steve Antony
Published by Oxford University Press

Meet Betty, the star of Steve Antony's second picture book about a baby Gorilla. We've all heard of the 'terrible twos', well just like a toddler, Betty is quite the handful when things are not going her way. When Betty comes across a banana and finds she can't peel it, her rumbling tummy gets the better of her and she throws an almighty tantrum. Luckily for Betty (and for us) a helpful Toucan arrives to show her how its done. But will this solve Betty's problem?

Like The Queens Hat, Steve has gone for a very limited colour palette - but there is a very clever reason behind the limited choice of colours. As well as being the same colour as a banana skin, the yellow in the backgrounds represent a calming atmosphere when Betty is content. And when that tantrum erupts, we find the yellow is replaced by a strong alarming red, which helps us realise how upset Betty is.

In this book there is a bigger focus on the characters and emotions compared to Steve's debut. There is no background art, just solid flat colour of yellow or red (on top of a banana paper texture). This helps the reader recognise when Betty jumps from a calm, loveable gorilla to one that's loud and unpredictable. The illustrations themselves, stand out on the page and the pastel effect they're drawn with give them a childlike quality. Betty is hard to forget and children will undeniably relate to her expressions and poses.

I'd recommend this book for younger readers and their first time parents. It helps children and their parents understand tantrums and how things as simple as peeling a banana (and a parent 'thinking' they've understood what's wrong) can upset a child that can't communicate how they're feeling without expressing it through a tantrum. Steve has tackled tantrums in a successful manner, and created a memorable character in Betty. He's definitely a new talent to keep an eye on. To find out more about Steve, keep an eye out for my interview with him coming up next.

And if like Betty, you're finding it a little hard to open a banana too, take a look and this helpful technique on Youtube.

Betty Goes Bananas is to buy in all good bookshops and on the Oxford University Press website.

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