In the Half Room

What, one wonders, is a Half Room? And why is there half a cat on the cover? With its intriguing title and cover image this enigmatic picturebook grabs the reader’s attention from the outset. All of the objects in the book are halved and as we turn the pages the Half Room is gradually constructed before our eyes, along with the story of the girl who occupies this mysterious space; a girl who reads in the light of a half moon and whose other half is not as far away as we might think.

With its litany of objects (a half chair, a half hat, a half table, a half cat) and its lilting, poetic metre, this picturebook calls to mind Margaret Brown’s, Goodnight Moon, and the story, which concludes perhaps not coincidentally with the words “Good night!”, is in many ways a tribute to this timeless classic. The vocabulary in this book, like that in Goodnight Moon is sparse, but the way in which the words and images reappear on the various pages is strangely comforting. The verbal and visual narrative complement each other perfectly, and the whole work is satisfyingly complete despite being comprised of halved things. Delicate, watercolour illustrations in browns and blues make up the colour palette and the whole effect is soothing and restorative. This is a book to cherish, a book to read aloud, a book whose value lies as much in its form as in its content.