Australia is famously a land of droughts and flooding rains. There have certainly been plenty of both recently, and Queensland has borne the brunt of much of it. Jackie French wrote Flood in response to the floods that devastated huge areas of Queensland in 2011. At least 35 people died. The whole country was affected.
Jackie French grew up in Queensland. Her family still live there. So naturally she had a strong emotional reaction to the floods. It was a personal, family emergency as well as a national one. This beautiful and moving book is Jackie's response to this disaster.
Flood starts with the end of drought.
But then the rain kept coming and coming. Too much rain. And the river went from being a friend to being an enemy.
Jackie French doesn't mention the deaths. Instead she focuses on the response to the floods. The human response.
The kindness of strangers bloomed like flowers after rain.
Quite a few pages feature the huge boardwalk that tore away and the tug that steered it safely through the maze of bridges, without causing more damage.
Bruce Whatley did an amazing job with the illustrations. He painted vertically on an easel to get the paint dripping, which adds so much to the flood soaked atmosphere of the book. A lot of his illustrations are from the dog's eye point of view. People are shown in some dangerous situations, but they are shown being rescued.
He writes a very interesting paragraph at the end describing his illustrative technique.
Humour is easy but producing illustrations that show serious emotion is a very different thing. Recently I discovered I have more success producing images that have elements of self-expression and 'art' with my left hand.
Bruce illustrated Flood with his non-dominant hand! I find that incredible- to be so talented to be able to use your non-dominant hand to get more emotion in your work.
Flood was one of my top reads of 2011. It was printed in Queensland. A copy was donated to every primary school in Australia, and my son has read it at his school. I think that's a fantastic idea. Profits from the sales of the book were donated to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.
An Illustrated Year is hosted by An Abundance of Books.