In this imaginative and atypical picturebook, Barnaby is a pavement artist in a busy city whose drawing of a boy – Chalk Boy – seems to take on a life of its own, with ‘eyes that can see’ and a ‘heart that can feel’. Barnaby explains that once the rain comes, Chalk Boy will wash away, but for now Chalk Boy loves his life. Chalk Boy spends his day being re- drawn as a juggler, a reader, a swimmer and a gymnast.
The story is written in simple, clear language that matches the illustrations, which are executed in inky black lines with rich watercolour. There is plenty to spot in these refreshing images of the buzzing city behind Chalk Boy: coffee-drinking hipsters, shoppers, uniformed students, tourists, and greedy pigeons.
Soon enough the rain comes, night falls, and Chalk Boy realises he’s lonely. When Barnaby returns to his work, what he adds to the drawing offers a heart-warming resolution to the story. This is a carefree, quirky story with a subtly encouraging ending.