Outside in World | Browse Books
Use our Book Finder to search for books by Title (or part of the title), Author, ISBN, Age Range, Keyword, or Continent/Country. Then simply click the magnifying glass to start your search.
‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Maia and What Matters
by Tine Mortier
Age Range: 6-8
Maia is clever, strong-willed and impatient. Just like her Grandma. They are the best of friends and spend time together enjoying running around the garden, climbing trees, sharing stories, a love of cherries and cake, but most of all, they share an understanding of each other.
One day Grandma falls ill and loses control over her words. The adults struggle to understand her, but Maia, although confused and sad at the changes in her Grandma, never gives up. She finds a way to help her Grandma by filling her hospital room with pictures and handmade objects despite the protests from the nurses. Maia understands what her Grandma is trying to say and is able to interpret her needs because she knows her so well.
They grumbled that it was a hospital, for goodness’ sake, not a playroom.
And they said they couldn’t find a thing in there.
Maia just shrugged.
Blah-blah. They can’t tell me what to do. I’ll draw a ship.
‘Fip,’ said Grandma.
Maia drew a bird.
‘Sird,’ said Grandma, and her mouth dragged on the right.
Maia experiences a whole range of emotions as her world is turned upside down. First her Grandma suffers a stroke; then she sees her grandfather sitting lifeless in his chair; she watches her mother’s sadness as she arranges the funeral, but all the while she stays close to her grandmother as she grieves.
Flemish author Tine Mortier tackles the realities of ageing, illness, death and grief with sensitivity as seen through the eyes of a young child. Despite the tragedy that befalls her family Maia’s voice remains strong throughout the story. Somehow, she finds a way to cope and support her Grandma. The translation by Australian David Colmer deftly captures Maia’s voice as she navigates these momentous changes in her life.
The bold text is cleverly used to portray the thoughts of Maia and her grandmother and Kaatje Vermeire’s whimsical illustrations have used a range of techniques including collage to convey the different emotions experienced. There are soft pinks and vivid greens to represent fun, laughter and happiness. Then there are different shades of brown to represent love, friendship and sadness while white and grey silhouettes and black convey confusion and loss. Proportion and scale are also used skilfully to create further impact.
This is a remarkable picture book that tackles some difficult issues; the only caveat for both parents and teachers is that they should read it first themselves before presenting it to a child. That said Maia and What Matters is a brave thought-provoking book which deserves to have a wide audience.