I always welcome picture books that tell a story about children using household objects to create imaginative games.
In The Terrible Suitcase, the main character is a little girl who is given a “terrible” old suitcase as a going to school present, instead of a super-duper rocket backpack with shiny silver zippers like her friends.
The little girl is inconsolable. At school, she takes her suitcase and encloses herself in a cardboard-box “rocket” that is in the classroom, refusing to come out. Another girl crawls in, similarly crying and sad to be at school, wanting to go home. The two girls meet each other midway and start playing rockets. The terrible suitcase becomes in turn a toolkit, and a computer to fly the rocke. (There are tasty “spacefood sticks” in the rocket too.) Gradually more children join in the imaginative play and forget their troubles.
The story is complimented by illustrations in watercolour, gouache and pencil by rising star of the international children’s book scene Freya Blackwood. The book succeeds in depicting real emotions and in showing how a child can make the most of things even when they don’t always get what they want.
It won the Early Childhood category of the Australian Children’s Book Council of the Year Awards for 2013 and is available from fishpond.com.
A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.