Gorgeous illustrations with a whimsical story to remind readers of all ages of the power of imagination.
It’s been a while since I last read a children’s book whose illustrations gripped me from the moment I laid eyes on them, but J.H. Low has achieved just that with his new book Lemonade Sky.
Loosely speaking, Lemonade Sky follows a boy and his faithful friends as he sets out on a journey to escape a society that has his whole life planned out for him. Encountering gatekeepers planning to stop them at every point along the way, they must use their wit and dexterity to run to safety, and perhaps, find their fabled ‘lemonade sky’, where he can finally be himself.
While aimed at readers 3 and up, even older readers and adults can find wonder between its covers, thanks to Low’s deft artistry and his ability to craft a thoroughly compelling, fantasy version of Singapore on every page. Words are never the focus here, featuring only as short lines dwarfed by the sheer beauty on every page.
There are times one feels swallowed up in the images, as the boy is surrounded by massive creatures several times his size, from orang utans to sloths, pythons to owls, and in one scene, even an angler fish. The colours are vibrant and full of life, and the brushstrokes richly textured, where it almost seems to give some of the images motion. One cannot help but feel fear and awe at this world, where every page introduces a new threat, the size of each creature majestic and terrifying, as they weave their way between the distinctly urban landscape, complete with informative signs reminding readers of what a ‘fine’ city we live in.
While simple in its concept, Lemonade Sky is that rare children’s book whose images will stay with you long after you flip past the last page, bearing a strong likeness to similarly great works, such as books by Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao. It’s a work that reminds us of the sheer power our imagination has to take us to another world, and how we can and should take the time to lose ourselves in our heads for a while, with J.H. Low steering us in the right direction.
Recommended for: Anyone who feels they need a burst of inspiration and hope, and appreciate simple stories and great illustrations.
Lemonade Sky is published by Epigram and available here.