Poetry Box review: Joy Cowley’s ‘The Tiny Woman’s Coat’

Poetry Box my October poem challenge

The Tiny Woman’s Coat, Joy Cowley and Giselle Clarkson, Gecko Press, 2021

Sometimes all you need is a book that is as good as a bowl of comfort soup. A book that fills you up with warm glows so that even the gloomiest day brightens.

I was feeling really glum, the sky outside was dismal grey, I had a head full of little worries that together grew together like a snowball.

So I picked up Joy Cowley’s The Tiny Woman’s Coat with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson. A perfect choice. The story is sublime. The illustrations are sublime. Double dose of sublime.

I read the book in one sweet gulp and truly the sky lightened, the birds started singing, and the icy snowball in my head melted away.

This beautiful book is comfort at its very best. The tiny woman, shivering and shaking, needs a coat, but she doesn’t have anything to make a tiny coat with! So she heads out wondering where she will find what she needs. Yes! The tiny woman plans to make a coat, not buy a coat. I love that! She will need cloth and scissors, a needle and thread, and buttons. Everyone she meets (a grey goose and a friendly horse for a start) has the perfect gift for her.

The illustrations are exquisite: the colour palette perfect, and the lines deliver life and animated character with a lightness of touch.

Three words resonate as I read: simplicity, lightness and KINDNESS. Three perfect words to carry on days of gloom and grey.

Thank you Joy, Giselle and Gecko Press for this gift of a book. I am going to savour the story and the illustrations again today.

EXTRA for keen young readers and writers: For my October poem challenge I have invited children to use the first lines of books to kickstart a poem. I did three sample poems. I used the first sentence of Joy and Giselle’s book for one example. I actually wrote the poem before I read the book – so my poem is completely different. It was such fun to do. Give it go!

Gecko Press page

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers. Her awards include the Margaret Mahy Medal; the NZ Post Children’s Book Award 2006; the Roberta Long Medal, Alabama, USA; and the AW Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature. She is a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Giselle Clarkson is an illustrator from Wellington, New Zealand. She once drew a picture of some biscuits that was shared online so many times that they put her on TV. As well as illustrating children’s books, Giselle is a regular contributor to the NZ School Journal. She writes a comic about children’s books for The Sapling, and makes educational comics about important and exciting environmental topics. She loves to have adventures at sea and on remote islands best of all. Giselle has a degree in photography from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.

The Tiny Woman’s Coat

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