A Very Late Story

Some of the best picturebooks are the ones with very little text but a very big message. Marianna Coppo’s story within a story is a wonderfully clever example of how illustration and simple expression is sometimes more powerful than words themselves.

Young readers are introduced to Coppo’s ‘cast’ of cute characters as they anxiously await the story to which they will belong. But as time moves on, it becomes evident that the story is running very late (‘Sigh. In the old days stories used to arrive on time’). Finally, an impatient pink rabbit with a satchel of colouring pencils takes things into its own hands and the true story begins to unfold.

What the story lacks in words is certainly made up for with illustration. Coppa’s simple pastel palette and acres of white space are hugely effective. As pink rabbit’s own narrative grows, the white space recedes and bursts of colour and expression are revealed. A host of new characters join the story, the once ‘blank page’ is filled with unicorns and rainbows (and a rainbow unicorn) and the effect is magical.

Children will love the subtle humour that runs through this book – and of course the adorably expressive creatures who we follow from the beginning. It may take little ones a few reads to fully grasp what’s happening, but even if the tale remains a little baffling, they can hopefully take away one key message: don’t wait for stories to arrive at your doorstep; be bold, be creative, and make up your own!