Between Tick and Tock by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay

Between Tick and TockIn a grey bustling city there is no time stop the roundabout to make friends, or notice a lost toy rolling under a park bench or help a stray dog or a stuck cat. But high in the rooftops where the birds roost, Liesel seems to stand outside of time and has the power to make the city pause for a moment. She uses this superpower to stop the clock between ticks and go paint a colourful mural, arrange an accidental encounter so that two children can become friends. She finds the toy and rescues the stray dog and generally intervenes to help people stop and take stock, to notice what’s going on around them. Between Tick and Tock is a meditation on how easy it is to get lost in the day to day and forget to marvel at the world. It raises philosophical questions on the nature of time.

Is the flow of time just a human invention, something we just read on a clock?
Does it really exist?

Is time infinite? Or is there a beginning and an end to time?

What happens when the present moment becomes past?

Could it be possible to step outside of time?

Do we need time?

What does it mean to waste time?

How do you know you are in the present?

Do the past and the future exist?

Does time pass more quickly or slowly at depending on what you are doing?

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Her Idea by Rilla Alexander

Sozi has an idea, in fact she has hundreds of ideas but they are slippery and illusive and when she comes to turn her ideas into reality she finds it’s not so easy. Then a passerby offers some hope. The passerby is a book which looks very much like the one that you are holding in your hands (more so if you remove the dust jacket). It helps capture her ideas and keep them safe until she is ready to do something with them.

Alexander captures the trickiness of the process of turning ideas into art. And how it takes hard work (stretching and pulling and cutting) to transform ideas into something more tangible, in this case a picture book.  It very cleverly plays on the slippery notion of what is real and what is in your imagination and how ideas are transported from one person to another through the physical medium of the book.

Sozi demonstrates that you don’t have to know how things will end when you embark on a creative endeavour. As it turns out, her ending to the story turns out to be a beginning – the story of how Sozi got to be in the book you are holding in the first place. Like a Russian doll, Sozi becomes a character in the book within the book. Sozi is transformed from author/narrator to idea. Or was she always an idea that we, through reading, turned to something more tangible for a moment?

Can stories trick us? Is it the same as lying?

Are ideas real?

Are ideas better that reality?

Do we distort them when we make them tangible?

Is there a world of ideas more perfect than physical reality?

What is perfection?

Where do ideas come from?

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Sam and Dave dig a hole next to an apple tree just outside a house. There is a cockerel weathervane on the roof and a red tulip in a pot balanced on the railing. A grey cat with a red collar watches. A dog joins Sam and Dave on their mission to dig until they find something spectacular. They dig and dig and each time they are on the brink of discovery they change direction and miss out. But something spectacular does happen and they land back where they started or do they? Sam and Dave seem unaware as they go inside for chocolate milk and animal biscuits that a few things are different.

Klassen’s illustrations use muted, earthy colours, they seem to be drawn with coloured pencils. Each page contains a lot of white space. Inviting the reader’s imagination to fill the void. The end papers at either side of the book are a different colour and mirror the colour of the fruit on the fruit trees. They indicate change. In most of the drawings the characters are mouthless.

The story builds anticipation and frustration with every near miss. The ending is very ambiguous and perhaps a little unnerving. It has a slightly numbing effect as we search for an explanation and none is given.

Sam and Dave seem annoyingly single-minded, they have tunnel vision. This adds to our sense of frustration and raises questions around how we know things. The text seems as oblivious to the real story as Sam and Dave but if we are using our senses and are tuned into colour and image and the body language of the non-human characters, we see that things are the same yet different. The author gives us no clue as to what has happened.

Are diamonds more valuable than food?

How do we know things?

How does the dog know there are diamonds and bones? Why don’t Sam and Dave?

Should we trust our senses?

Should we trust reason?

The dog finds a bone and seems to trigger a shift in reality and they all fall into a different world, the same but changed. As they fall we see multiple versions of each character.

How do we know which one is real?

How do we know we are real?

Do parallel universes exist?

Are they dreaming?

Is one home less real than the other?

Is it the authors duty to make sense, to answer the questions s/he raises?

Are we a different person at the end of the book than at the start?

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