Author(s): Sacha Cotter
In this story about being true to oneself, a boy searches for the secret to doing the perfect bomb into the water. With training from Nan, an expert and former champion, and by listening to his own voice, he finds his unique style and pulls off a wonderful, acrobatic, truly awe-inspiring bomb.
The top prize, The Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, at this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, went to The Bomb! This lively and delightful picture book by Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan is a great story, wonderfully illustrated, is laced with humour, and has a message to boot. Be yourself! An important refrain in our media-saturated world that continuously sends us messages about how we ‘should’ be and how our children ‘should’ be. It’s summertime in New Zealand and this could be anyone’s local beach, favourite river waterhole, or pool. Everyone can do the bomb...except for one boy who can’t quite seem to make it happen — no matter what. His mantra doesn’t work — “Hear my song, see my lines, check my moves, they’re so fine..” Even Nan, his stalwart supporter, with her encouraging positive vibes, can’t help (until he hears her). Everyone(!) has advice: “ More weight. More height. More hair. More puku. Bigger shorts”. But nothing helps. The bomb is a ...plop. But then he discovers the secret! He’s going to do it his way. Here’s a story you can pull out and read again and again. It’s always going to spark fires with its celebration of being yourself and finding your own way to your goal and the things that delight you. The text is a joy to read, with its rhythm and energetic language. (If you really like the text, check out the song!) And there is a te Reo edition, Te Pohu. The illustrations are tremendously playful, with things to find and keep discovering on every page, and show us a story that could only be in New Zealand — the trees, the birds, the icecreams in their cones. The book has verve and bounce as well as depth, exploring the subtler relationship between a child and those who support them in their endeavours (it’s dedicated to Sacha's and Josh’s grandmothers!), alongside themes of anxiety and confidence, without being cloying. The Bomb is sure to become a New Zealand classic. It is a joy each time you read it. I wonder how many excellent tree-like diving platforms will appear this summer!
Winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Supreme Award 2019 and the Picture Book Award in the 2019 NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults