What do I love more? The story of Hasel and Rose or the story behind Hasel and Rose?
To truly appreciate Caroline Magerl’s new picture book, Hasel and Rose, you have to know a little of Magerl’s own story. Her story begins in Germany, where she was born. It continues in Australia where, from a young age, she lived aboard a yacht that sailed the east coast of the country. Life on a yacht doesn’t allow for many possessions, but amongst Magerl’s most treasured were picture books sent to her from her East German grandmother. The books fostered an early appreciation for art and literature and, as Magerl says, “Those parcels from the other side of the world put my feet on a path.” These early experiences, combined with creating toys and stories for her own daughter led to the story of Hasel and Rose.
Exploring themes of isolation and finding your place in unfamiliar surrounds, Hasel and Rose begins with a little girl looking out of her window at a new street, in a new town. Despite being surrounded by her family, Rose searches for comfort. Her search seems elusive – gazing at starry nights and rough seas using a cardboard telescope, Rose at last alights on the thing she wished for – a friend.
Magerl’s prose is sparse but eloquent – a picture of Hasel nestled in the hood of Rose’s jumper is accompanied by the words “She took the wish thing home… by cardigan.” And then “On the way, she thought of a name. Hasel was made with tiny stitches, and inside her was a red glass heart for finding things small and far away… Or just outside the window.”
Rose and Hasel isn’t an ‘obvious’ story – aspects of the story will be relevant to different children in different ways. That said, Magerl’s intensely beautiful illustrations provide an overarching narrative, one that’s imaginative, brave and sweet.
Hasel and Rose is suitable for children aged four years and over. Find it online at Fishpond. At Caroline Magerl’s online store, you’ll find a range of her superb illustrations, available as limited edition Giclee prints – perfect for the nursery wall.