Darkness and Light and Serendipity


Yesterday an old and dear friend gave me a beautiful gift. Duck, Death and the Tulip is written and illustrated by German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch. The book is published in English by a the funky New Zealand publishers Gecko Press.

Duck, Death and the Tulip is a strange and beautiful story full of both tenderness and darkness. I left the book on the kitchen table while I cooked dinner and every single member of my family stopped to read it and exclaimed at the wonderful strangeness of the story. And yet this is a very serious tale about mortality. I don’t know that Australian children’s illustrators approach darkness in quite the same way. Maybe it’s because Australia is a country so full of sunshine and optimism that even when we look into the darkness, we feel compelled to be cheery about it.

Last Friday I went to an exhibition of German children’s book illustrators, sponsored by the Goethe Institute, at the Australian Academy of Design. Some of Wolf Erlbruch’s illustrations were on display along with the work of twelve other amazing illustrators. The pictures were strange and brave and intense. It was delicious serendipity to be given a book by one of the illustrators within a week of seeing the exhibition. I wish I’d written a post about the show the day after I saw it, as it closes tomorrow. But if serendipity leads you to read this post and takes you to Port Melbourne before 5.00 pm tomorrow, check it out:

Of Fairies, Monsters,
Ghosts and Creatures … Contemporary German Children’s Book Illustration
At the Australian Academy of Design
220 Ingles St, Port Melbourne
10am to 5pm weekdays

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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