The curiosities by Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie
This story focuses on Miro, a child who is surrounded by Curiosities. The Curiosities are ghost-like figures with strange yet recognisable shapes that follow Miro and embrace him during his day. They begin quietly in Miro’s life but then start to exert their presence with unusual behaviours and loud sounds. Miro is desperate to escape from these sounds and behaviours and withdraws into his own world of darkness. Fortunately for Miro he hears 'a whisper of a voice …a single thread of knowing …the sounds of the earth broke through the hissed whispers of the Curiosities.' Miro comes to realise that with love, care and support he can begin to manage those dark and difficult times.
It is not until I read the note from Zana Fraillon related to her child’s diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome that I fully came to understand the true meaning behind this gentle and sensitive story. In our diverse world, there are many children and adults whose brains are wired differently and there is an important conversation to be had about accepting and understanding differences in oneself and others. In the endnote from the illustrator Phil Lesnie, he mentions that the Curiosities are drawn from folklore of the Philippines and based on the ‘aswang, shape-shifting, viscera-sucking ghouls and monsters.’ The Curiosities is a beautifully illustrated picture book that will be a welcome and important addition to any library.
Themes: Disability, Diversity, Difference, Folklore, Children.