‘Someone has eaten my apple!’ There’s a simple charm to this story of sneaking someone's food while they are otherwise absorbed in play which will be familiar to any school child. Azmen Sebastian (12-years-old at the time he created this book) has created a lively primary school scene. Kids play footy on a red dust oval as the background tension of the action. The reader sees a snake progressing from tree and across the playground, as a boy swings, oblivious. He keeps his eyes closed, imagining the ocean. The snake sees its opportunity to sneak two bites of the apple before it is disturbed and quickly returns to its tree home.
A photograph by Robyn Wells, who assisted with the book’s creation, shows Azmen at work creating his paintings. Skilful art design by Jo Hunt has placed the painted characters against washes of brown, blue and red for tension and action. Of particular note is the artist’s application of scratch marks in the paint to emphasise the snake’s scales in closeup.
No reference is given to Azmen’s cultural group, country, or school but that underscores that this is a universal story of the small dramas that happen at recess time at school – getting more ‘nature play’ than you plan for?