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Brilliant illustrator Anna Doherty shares her response to the third addition to our wordless picture book series, Caged. Read her review below!

In Duncan Annand’s debut picture book, pictures tell the entire story. Duncan has no need for text as he weaves the tale of two hapless top-hat-clad men attempting to construct an aviary to trap multicoloured exotic birds in. This is a silent tale of freedom, of nature winning the day, of not letting man get his way.

The story is told through juxtaposition: bold colours contrasted with black and white line drawing. Nestled in a page corner, a splash of colour draws you eye into a no-nonsense, plain blue bird: the heroine of our story. She’ll come to the caged birds’ rescue, but once she’s built her nest and laid her own eggs. The colours signpost we’re rooting for the birds. And to reinforce that, the story is playing out in bird’s-eye-view, we are seeing everything through the eyes of our heroine as she observes what’s going on.

This storyline runs in parallel to the men’s. In contrast to our bright and hopeful bird, without words, Duncan has managed to create a tension between the reader and the men. You dislike them instantly. They live in a colourless world of black lines, as if they are literally draining the colour out of the nature they are destroying for their own gain.

Anna Doherty, illustrator

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are endless things to look at: the delicate linework of the cages, the flapping wings of the birds. Tiny details; the ladders haphazardly tied together, rungs snapping as the story progresses, or the fact that the men have full top hats perched on their heads no matter what they are doing, adds character and a little chuckle to the story.

With a twist, the book ends in a striking flurry of bright bold colours. Themes of freedom, nature, hope splashed across the final spread. And the baddies get their comeuppance!

  • Watch the brilliant book trailer for Caged
  • Meet the mind behind Caged: watch an interview with creator Duncan Annand
  • Download a free poster here!
  • Read the highlights of our wordless picture book campaign

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Posted in News & Reviews