Written by Meg McKinlay
Illustrated by Andrew Frazer
Fremantle Press 2017
From the pen of multi-award-winning Meg McKinlay and dynamic new illustrator Andrew Frazer, Drawn Onward explores shifting perspective and the inner voice. The text is a palindrome that takes readers from the glass half empty – ’There is no light on the horizon and it is foolish to think you can change anything at all’ – to the glass half full: ‘You can change anything at all. It is foolish to think there is no light on the horizon.’
This powerful picture book for older readers is a call to hope that cleverly illustrates how the very same situation can be viewed quite differently depending on your perspective.
What Readers Are Saying:
“… a clever picture book for older children that explores the transformative power of perspective … will delight observant young readers with the way that subtle shifts in language can flip a situation on its head.”
“… a great collaboration between author and artist and one that helps us to learn how a simple shift of focus can change our whole perspective.”
– Educate.Empower blog review
“I found Drawn Onward to be an inspiring book. With the beautifully written words that twist from page to page and fonts and drawings of equal intricacy, the book is an experience to read from cover to cover.”
– Alexandra van Schie, junior reviewer, Starfish online-
Notable Book, 2018 CBCA Book of the Year Awards: Picture Book of the Year
Behind the Story
The story behind this story is a tale of infernal plagiarism. Of sorts.
In 2003, a political advertisement entitled “The Truth” (by RECREAR) won a prestigious prize and was widely shared. It features text which runs forwards and then in reverse to talk about the future of Argentina. Like many others, I thought this was very clever.
In 2007, a poem entitled “The Lost Generation” (by Jonathan Reed) adopted the same format to talk about contemporary youth. This was also widely shared and got me thinking about the possibility of using this technique in written form, perhaps in a picture book which moves from pessimism to optimism, flipping the script.
My interest in exploring this was probably sparked in part through the discussions I’ve had over many years with my husband, a clinical psychologist, about the importance of re-framing, of actively intervening in the narratives around us, particularly the ones we tell ourselves about ourselves.
I have no background in psychology myself, but I do have a background in being human, and as a very language-focused person, it’s been interesting – and incredibly helpful – for me to come to recognise my own patterns of thought, to identify these as stories rather than truth, to learn how the brain tends to treat language as the world – as fact rather than a subjective, malleable version of things.
And as a parent – and former child myself! – I came to wonder why we haven’t been more proactive in teaching these very basic concepts to young children. Why strategies for mental health aren’t introduced and practised in exactly the same way we teach physical fitness, the importance of healthy eating, and so on.
It seems to me that these concepts are very simple at their core, but become progressively more difficult to ‘learn’ as we get older and patterns of thinking become more entrenched. So while I was tinkering about with the idea of doing something in this format, it seemed natural to write something both simple and difficult, which could be a way in to this sort of conversation with children, while also having something to offer adults.
For someone with no visual or spatial intelligence whatsoever, the text was deceptively difficult to get right and I was sure the end result would be unillustratable and unpublishable in any event. Thankfully, Fremantle Press had different ideas and the end result is a beautiful little book I’m very proud of.