“If I were flying, I would travel to a perfect place. A place with frosted cakes and beautiful flowers and excellent trees to climb and absolutely no doldrums.”
“Where is that?” I asked.
She thought for a moment and said, “Bloomsberry, of course.” (15)
Virginia Wolf is, without hesitation, my favourite picture book. Isabella Arseneault’s watercolour-and-gauche illustrations are gorgeous: all at once soft, vivid, and a stark juxtaposition of black and white and colour. They convey absolutely the deep sadness and gloom of Virginia’s “wolfishness”, Vanessa’s sorrow for her sister’s pain, and the happiness of the country of “Bloomsberry” which the sisters create. In her narrative, Kyo Maclear has drawn on details of the Woolf sisters’ childhood and adult lives to create a beautiful story of sisterly love, of depression, and of the healing that painting and writing can effect. The book also quietly acknowledges the different ways one expresses feeling depressed, that young people too can feel doldrums, and offers suggestions about what to do when feeling “wolfish”. I love this book so very much.
22 April 2013 ~ Hamilton
Maclear, Kyo and Isabella Arseneault. Virginia Wolf. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2012.