Tiny Owl independent publishers state on their website that they are committed to producing beautiful, original books for children, books that are visually rich and conceptually meaningful. Chalk Eagle is a worthy addition to their collection.
This is a ‘silent’ or ‘wordless’ picturebook. The central character is a little boy who, although seemingly alone (apart from his cat) and living what appears to be a rather constricted urban life, conjures up a world of freedom and experience in his imagination. As he gazes out the window he sees an eagle soaring high in the sky and imagines what it must be like to have this incredible freedom to view the world from above. He clambers on to the roof and draws a chalk eagle and then draws himself. The chalk boy and eagle soar together over mountains and sea – reminiscent of the boy in Briggs’s Snowman. The cat does not go for the ride – in fact the cat appears to be trying to advise the boy against engaging with the (chalk) eagle.
The artwork – based on Tahvili’s original screen prints – is initially puzzling and then, on repeated viewing, opens up an amazing, imaginative world. The use of line and shape on a limited colour palette of blues, greens and white is stunning. There is a lovely contrast of colours and textures and these, combined with really inventive use of perspectives, make this quiet book sing. Full marks to the design team – the font and layout are perfect.