The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van T Rudd (Hachette Australia)
The Patchwork Bike is an impressive example of how impactful the picture book can be. Exploiting the format’s fluid combination of word and picture, it displays an uncommon energy and immediacy through visceral artwork and a bold, rapid-delivery text told in the first person. The narrator is one of several children in an African village of indeterminate location. In an area of few resources, they know how to make their own fun.
Further taking advantage of the picture book format, the execution of the art and text in The Patchwork Bike replicates the subject matter. The art is ‘patched’ together with loosely applied paint on battered scraps of recycled cardboard, while the text ‘patches’ together compound adjectives and fashions neologisms where a common word or phrase won’t do. All of this amplifies the story’s concept of making something out of imaginatively recycled materials. And it ably shows that creativity and inventiveness readily take over when the option of easy consumption is unavailable.