My Brother is a CBCA shortlisted book that is all about family. It is written and illustrated by Dee Huxley, with the visual characters drawn by her son Oliver and the book designed by her daughter Tiffany. My Brother is dedicated to Morgan.
The story is also very personal.
This book came about because of the loss of a loved one in tragic circumstances, & our world changed forever. It is both a tribute & a release. A tribute to a beautiful, empathetic soul, who touched so many lives, young & old, & who will be loved & missed forever. A release, albeit sorrowful, to be able to make this book for him, & us, & others like us, & a hope that he is somewhere beautiful & safe now. The main character, a metaphorical gentle creature, represents the emotional journey of loss, disbelief, grief, but also a journey of hope.
Everything about this story is carefully considered. From the placement of the text on the page, to the spacing between words and within certain words. The poem-like text that uses the language of grief and loss so sparsely and evocatively. To the black and white graphite illustrations that are full of detail and pathos. Colour is gradually added in the final few pages to offer hope and some lightening of the mood.
The personal nature of this work suffuses every page, every word.
Woven through each of the drawings are, as Dee says, images of thoughts and memories related ‘to childhood, adolescence, & the few years of adulthood … resulting in a surreal, nonsensical thread throughout the book’. She adds, ‘We know their meaning, others can form their own interpretation’.
After reading about Morgan’s murder here, the fragile, haunting beauty of this book leaps off the pages and into your heart. The pain, distress and grief that the Huxley family have endured over the past few years is unimaginable. Being able to use their collective creative sensibilities on this project must have been both a cathartic experience as well as another step along their road towards healing.
All the quotes in this post are from the Working Title Press teacher notes.