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October 1, 2017


By Margo Lanagan and Rovina Cai, Little Hare, 2017.

‘In wild times and in wartime, in times of fear and illness, I go to Tintinnabula, where soft rains fall.’

Cover of a book showing the ruins of a building with a small figure approaching the entryThe landscape is barren and bleak, with skeletal trees bending to the elements. Rain slices down on the ruins of a building; the chiaroscuro of shadows adding depth to the desolate. A small figure approaches a large opening in the ruins leading to nowhere…or is it?

Tintinnabula opens with dark and frightening creatures dominating the small figure of a girl in the bottom corner of the page. They could be inner demons or outer demons. They are very visible though. The illustrations are haunting and emotive and move directionally through the pages. The girl running, tearing, in an effort to be free of the demons on her tail. Always, there is a glimpse of a lighter place, a safer place, but it is far from an immediate reach. And still, the demons come.

A feather. A whisp.

The faceless character runs through pages following a white bird, until we finally meet her face-to-face, when she arrives in Tintinnabula. The overall colour palette changes from dark and red, to light and green. The central character who has been searching for Tintinnabula knows a safe place has been reached when she finally arrives in Tintinnabula. There it is safe and calm, and everything is okay.

This book is eerily magical and shows that even through adversity one can find calm within oneself.

A large picture book, the hard copy is beautifully bound. The die-cut window in the cover invites us into the journey that this book provides. I found Tintinnabula a very dark book. My local librarian said that books like this are difficult to shelve, as they are more appropriate for an older reader, even up to early teens, but teenagers wouldn’t read a picture book.


Winner: Crichton Award for New Illustrators, 2018.

Wrap Up


  • 6.5/10
  • 9/10
  • 5/10
    Educational content
  • 0.1/10
  • 6.5/10


  • Definitely not your average kids picture book, so if you're looking for something a bit different, and your kids are brave...
  • The hard cover version of this book is a high quality publication; true quality production.
  • An introduction to literary narrative for younger readers.


  • The illustrations in this book could be frightening for a small child.
  • The storyline is quite abstract, and uses some large words.

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