The Boy on the Page (New Frontier) is the story of a small boy who lands on a page. At first there is nothing else, then very slowly, a world grows around him. He wanders around but there is one thing puzzling him: why is he there? We then follow the boy as he makes his way through his life, doing all sorts of things – wonderful or mundane or wonderfully mundane. It is not until the very end that we discover, along with the boy, just why he belongs on the page.
I didn’t really set out to make a picture book about the meaning of life but I guess that’s what I have done. My goal for this story was to remind us all that we achieve a lot in our lives and make a difference to lots of people and things, even though we probably don’t think so a lot of the time. In that respect, I suppose it’s a picture book homage to the film, It’s a Wonderful Life. I could also say it’s a bit like Peter H. Reynolds’ book, The North Star, although I only read that for the first time about a year after I finished making this book.
The joy in working on The Boy on the Page was to balance the deep nature of the story idea with whimsical illustrations, hopefully resulting in a book that means something to people of all ages. On one hand, children can laugh at the tree in the toilet or paddling a canoe on top of a whale, while grown-ups might see themselves in the image of the boy as a grown man, sitting on a hill at night wondering what it’s all about. But if you think the existentialism goes over the kids’ heads, think again – whenever I read this to five and six-year-olds, they understand it as much as anybody.
Illustrations in watercolour and black pencil.