Today we welcome a new Australian book reviewer to Gobblefunked! Mia Montagliani is a lawyer, writer and aspiring picture book author and for her first review checks out Gregg Dreise’s latest picture book, Mad Magpie.
Mad Magpie is the third book in a morality series from award-winning author and illustrator Gregg Dreise, which follows the journey of Guluu the magpie as he overcomes bullying and finds his bliss.
Showcasing a beautiful mix of community spirit, courage and wise advice, Mad Magpie offers young readers the opportunity to understand that a calm attitude and joy are necessary to successfully deal with bullies.
Freedom is a central theme of this book; the bullies and bullied are all birds. Bird can fly, obviously, but Guluu’s own anger, fear and initial reluctance to change serve to clip his own wings. It is only when Guluu sings (thus finding his true inner voice), that his freedom is restored.
Dreise’s upbeat illustrations vibrantly depict Guluu’s ongoing struggle to transcend anger and become calm. A testament to Dreise’s illustrating talent is his ability to accurately portray each animal’s emotions in their eyes and manner, without resorting to anthropomorphic characterisations.
Satisfaction is derived not only from the fact that Guluu is supported by a community of well-wishers and sage Elders in his quest for freedom from the bullies’ taunts, but that Guluu’s eventual release from anger serves as an example to the bullies themselves, who also reflect on their actions towards Guluu.
This is a touching story, and follows the traditional hero’s journey where the protagonist must overcome adversity again and again in order to finally learn his lesson. As with traditional indigenous stories, nature becomes a useful metaphor, and it’s the Elders who show Guluu how the behaviour of water can be his guide.
Children will find this story inspiring and useful. I’d recommend parents use this story as one of many tools to gently help their children overcome their own similar challenges.