ASMALL BOY, HIS BACK TO THE VIEWER, walks towards an open doorway which leads into a long interior passage, lined with more doorways, that recedes into an indiscernible distance. The light radiating from the hallway provides a path for the boy to the inside that offers light and warmth from the swirling snow outside and the bleak city shadowed on the skyline. The hallway sits magically on the snowy landscape, intriguing in its swirling patterned carpets and carved doors, but one hesitates to read it as welcoming. It is a lonely interior that beckons to the boy, and while the threshold appears to call to adventure, it also suggests challenge and perhaps threat, represented not least by the looming city silhouette behind it. However, his regular footprints in the snow suggest that the boy is ready to embrace whatever is at the end of the hallway. Abira Ali, the illustrator of The Big Bazoohley,1 Peter Carey's only children's book, has in this image captured a clearer sense of the story than some reviewers and critics have managed to do.
The Big Bazoohley's arrival to critical acclaim within the world of children's literature confirmed it as very much in the tradition of fine writing for juveniles. It was an Honour Book in the 1996 Children's Book Council of Australia Awards for Younger Readers, the Judges' Report describing it rather earnestly as a “moralistic tale written in careful prose with wit and humour.”2
1 There were three separate publications of this title in 1995: New York: Henry
Holt; St Lucia: U of Queensland P; and the one referred to in the present essay, Lon-
don & Boston MA: Faber & Faber. The US and UK editions are finely illustrated by
Abira Ali. There are only minor textual variations among the three editions.
2 “Judges' Report,” Reading Time 40.3 (1996): 7.