Scoop Review of Books

Review: Demolition by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Demolition by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Walker Books 2012)
Reviewed by Ruth Brassington

It’s clear why Demolition’s dedication is to “Mum, who gave me stories, and Dad, who gave me music”. Sutton’s rhythmic story-telling, with Lovelock’s bright pictures, is a delightful action-packed offering for pre-schoolers fascinated – or even frightened – by large machinery and adults who enjoy reading rhyming language to them. The award-winning team that gave us Roadworks has made another great picture book with the same large design format and rhythmic rhyming style.

The clear primary colours of the double-page illustrations are overlaid with the dusty tones of a demo site and few words. In the hands of men and women who are clearly in control, huge realistic machines “crash” and “crunch” their way through a building. As with Roadworks, illustrated facts about machines such as bulldozers, crushers and excavators follow the story.

Amongst the inherent violence of demolition there’s the PC message that demolitionists wear their hard hats and boots, and the two five-year-olds in my family can tell you why. These two asked for a second reading straight away, and had already latched onto the repetitive phrases. And they loved the onomatopoeic offerings such as “Zip! STAMP! SNAP!” and “Bim! BAM! THWOCK!” that add to the action.

Ending on a (literally) constructive note, this could be a good one for Christchurch picture book kids, with the sights and sounds of demolition leading to a happy ending. And it’s more likely to inspire poets than demolitionists.