Keepsies, milkies, tigers steelies and cats eyes may not be familiar terms used in 2020 but as a child who grew up in the era of the marble craze, this book brought back fond memories.
The central character, a young person, addresses the audience directly, so invites the reader into their world. The main character portrays the stereotypical, eccentric scientist, along with their lab assistant, a sheep, donned with glasses and white lab coat. Both bring a humour and mad scientist energy to the page. This energy is supported through the colourful illustrations that have an appealing cartoon quality, along with the use of multi images on one page to portray movement and time passing. Colour is also used to reflect the changing mood of the characters.
Readers will be amused at the weird combination of ingredients in creating the marvellous range of marbles being concocted in the science lab, “mix in a sack of garlic, the teeth bling from a retired rapper” Understanding some of the humour will require contextual knowledge. The use of language features such as “The Curly Wurly Wo Whizzler Marble” and “glorious bumbling jumble of boiling vats and steaming beakers” are delightful to the ear.
There is an explicit message conveyed throughout the story, never give up, and you too can be anything you want to be. The fun of marble making and the playfulness projected through the words, illustrations and characters took precedence over the risk of the message feeling too sentimental. Favourably it leaves the reader with a cheerful vibe and excitement over the magic of marbles.
Title: The Marble Maker
Author: Sacha Cotter
Illustrator: Josh Morgan
Publisher: Huia Publishers
ISBN: 9781775502241 (reo Pākehā) 9781775502258 (reo Māori)
Date of Publication: 2016
Ages: 5-8 years
Reviewer: Cydnee Reed, Early Childhood teacher, Karanga Mai Early Learning Centre, Canterbury
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? I’m a Marble Expert
You can buy this book here
There is also a te reo Māori-language version, translated by Kawata Teepa which won the 2017 Te Kura Pounamu Award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.