Roses are Blue written by Sally Murphy & Illustrated by Gabriel Evans
Published by Walker Books
Multi-award winning author Sally Murphy has taken a risk with Roses Are Blue (2014) and it has paid off. Using a half-prose half-poetry style, Murphy is able to capture the fast-paced thought processes of a child learning to cope with loss. She tackles difficult subject matter but handles it effortlessly, creating the perfect book for parents to teach their children to confront complex situations.
Amber Rose has many new things in her life: a new brother, a new house, a new school… and a new mum. Her ‘old mum’ was in a car accident and is now wheelchair-bound and has suffered brain damage. Amber’s Aunty Fi has moved in with the Roses to care for her sister in her recovery. Amber has told no one at her new school for fear that they will laugh and tease her. However, a looming Mother’s Day High Tea at school forces Amber to confront her conflicting feelings about her ‘new mum’.
Murphy manages to balance Amber’s dark feelings of embarrassment and resentment with her childlike longing for the simple activities her mum can no longer do. Amber’s feelings are multi-faceted and realistic, as Murphy does not shy away from controversial emotions.
Though this novel is primarily functional as a teaching tool for children with disabled parents, it works on many other levels. Leroy Jamieson’s character highlights that even ‘normal’ mums can be embarrassing or, at times, disappointing to their children and this novel can teach children tolerance, patience and perspective. Evans’s illustrations add a lightness to the work, reflecting the overarching message that life with always improve with time and love.
Murphy is likely to win more awards for this latest venture and this novel is certainly one to pick out for young readers of any age.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Sally Murphy
Illustrator: Gabriel Evans
Title: Roses are Blue
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: July 2014
Age: 8+ years