What are the fabulous freedom machines that stalk through this stunningly illustrated picture book? The story follows a young girl who lives in a stark built environment. The ill-kept caravan park that is her home is depressingly drab and uninviting. But the children who live there have found imaginative ways to escape, riding off on adventures in magical and elaborate ‘freedom machines’.
The girl and her constant companion, a spotted pig, search for a machine that is just right for her so she too can escape the overwhelming ennui of being trapped in such an uninspiring place. The machine she finds is organic rather than mechanical in nature, and it allows her imagination to run wild, thus expanding her previously limited horizons.
Kirli Saunders’ text is lyrical, pared back and poetic, while Matt Ottley’s stunning oil-on-canvas paintings are intricate, detailed and full of hidden imagery for children to pore over. The images on the endpapers pay homage to Leonardo Da Vinci’s illustrations of flying machines. And the fabulous ‘machines’ Ottley has created are made up of a number of found objects––including bits of bikes, plants, animals and even musical instruments, along with a plethora of cogs and wheels.
The interplay of text and images creates a magical experience, as the freedom machines strut across the pages. ‘The Incredible Freedom Machines’ celebrates the imagination and those special objects that provide the keys to escaping the mundane and entering other worlds, other ways of thinking and other ways of being––BOOKS!
Kirli Saunders is a proud Yuin woman, and a poet and author. Matt Ottley is a multi-award-winning author, illustrator and musician. In 2018, ‘The Incredible Freedom Machines’ was a CBCA Notable Book in the Picture Book of the Year Category. It was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards.