Hark, It's Me. Ruby Lee!
About the book
Ruby Lee is a little girl with a very big imagination. Every week Ruby's teacher, Mrs Majestic-Jones, asks special people to do special jobs in her class. Ruby would do anything to be the messenger, as she's the best in her class at announcing. But will her wild imagination get in the way? A delightful story about an adorable and irrepressible heroine from CBCA award-winning author Lisa Shanahan and Illustrators Australia award-winner Binny.
About the author
Lisa Shanahan is an award-winning writer of picture books and fiction for young people. Some of her well-loved books include Gordon's got a Snookie, Bear and Chook and Daddy's Having a Horse. Her picture book Bear and Chook by the Sea, illustrated by Emma Quay, won the CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood in 2010 and BIG PET DAY, illustrated by Gus Gordon, won the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award for the 5–8 age group in 2015.
About the illustrator
Binny Talib is an award-winning illustrator and designer whose hand-drawn and playful illustrations can be found widely across the US, UK, Japan and Australia in major children's clothing brands, children's toys, interior design, books, album covers and greeting cards. Her illustration career has flowed on from a design background as an agency art director and creative director and an honours degree in Visual Communications. She is the creator and illustrator of the app Sneaky Sam. Her authorial debut, Origami Heart, was published by Hachette in 2016.
Hark, It's Me, Ruby Lee! is an engaging and humorous story, well-constructed and layered with emotional depth, a consummate achievement in a picture book intended for young children. The storytelling is enlightening whilst being lively and playful, with rich vocabulary and child-friendly language. The bold manga-influenced illustrations attract attention and abound in visual jokes.
The child protagonists, Ruby Lee and George Papadopoulos, are deftly crafted in few words: they are fully realised and form empathetic alliances with the reader. Ruby Lee declares that she is the best at announcing 'Hark, it's me, Ruby Lee!' and loves helping, 'humming and hopping and handstands at dusk'. Both the words and the bright over-the-top pictures reflect her exuberant free spirit.
At school, class jobs are allocated on Mondays. Imposing teacher Mrs Majestic-Jones favours the word 'special' and rewards passive, polite behaviour. Her name, majestic appearance and speech contribute to the humour. Ruby Lee is desperate to be the class messenger but her noisy, impetuous actions cause her to be overlooked until her endearing, long-suffering friend, George Papadopoulos, tactfully suggests that she be quiet and still. Ruby Lee is imaginative and loves grand adventures. When she is finally given the messenger role she takes George Papadopoulos across the desert (the sandpit) past the 'Spockled Frocklewockle', over the mountains (the stairs) past the 'Squinker' and through the jungle (the monkey bars) past the 'Shlurgle'. On the first two adventures the message is forgotten or lost and, on the third, Ruby Lee somehow loses George Papadopoulos. The illustrations enhance these whimsical episodes, becoming more luxuriant and fanciful. The humour here is laugh-out-loud.
Friendship is a potent theme and the refrain 'Fear not! I am the bearer of good news!'may prompt the reader to wonder what good news Ruby Lee may be announcing. This is open-ended but there is a clear message about being courageous. Boisterous, creative children will find a kindred spirit in Ruby Lee in this empowering, joyous tale; others will cheer her on and perhaps decide to emulate some of her intrepid, imaginative nature.