Arthur and the Golden Rope by Joe Todd-Stanton

Arthur and the Golden Rope is the first of a series from Brownstone’s Mythical Collection. As I browsed the bookshop, I was drawn to the book by the style of the cover. It felt like I had stumbled upon an unfolding story that sucked me into its world of mythical beasts and unlikely heroes. I love this book.

Just taking in the delicious imagery in the book is a familiar pleasure. The colours are vivid and scenes so alive my brain automatically imagines the motion. The layers of endearing quirky detail tell their own little subplots. Each scene feels like a paused frame of an animation reminiscent of Miyazaki’s films.

The illustrations are so full of life I can see them move.

The hero on the cover looks like an ordinary child and I know my children will see themselves in the unlikely hero and play out his adventures in their own imaginary play. In his thought provoking talk on How Movies Teach Manhood, Colin Stokes compares movies for children today with The Wizard of Oz and observes that instead of just having one dimensional characters that predominantly fight to succeed, Dorothy makes friends with everybody and is a leader. Stokes asks, “Why is there so much Force — capital F, Force — in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?”

An adventure of pushing your mind and body to the limit, rather than a fight.

Our hero Arthur’s adventures aren’t about fighting. Arthur spends his time exploring the forest and getting to know the strange creatures who live there. He does a lot of problem solving, helping others and building relationships. He also tests his physical limits. He seems to spend a lot of time scaling great heights. By the time the story presents fighting as an option, you as the reader have already come to the conclusion that fighting is an incredibly limiting option and all the colour, humour and thrilling adventure happened because Arthur used his body and mind to follow his curiosity.