Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School
by David Mackintosh (Author)
Irish-born author/illustrator David Mackintosh’s debut picture book, Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School is a tour de force of originality and good design, with a strong, universal story about a boy who is proud to be different.
Marshall Armstrong is different in every way. The young narrator explains why:
‘His freckles look like birdseed on his nose. He has lips like my tropical fish, Ninja . . . His watch doesn’t even have hands.’
Slowly the boy begins to realise that different isn’t so bad, and in fact, in Marshall Armstrong’s case – with his amazing house complete with fireman’s pole and homemade grand piano – it’s actually pretty great.
What sets this book apart isn’t its clever, well-written story, or the enigma that is Marshall Armstrong; it is all in the illustration. Like picturebook masters Maurice Sendak, Satoshi Kitamura and Oliver Jeffers, Mackintosh says so much with a few light strokes of his pencil. Each spread brings a new surprise: a cluttered gym scene where children play marbles, do the splits or look on anxiously; Marshall on his penny farthing bike; the Armstrongs’ multi-coloured mansion. You turn each page and gasp at the use of colour, line and perspective. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
This is certainly one of the most exciting and original picture books released this year. With Oliver Jeffers, Chris Haughton, Kevin Waldron, Chris Judge, Sheena Dempsey and now David Mackintosh coming through the ranks, the future of Irish picturebooks is in good hands.
This review was published online in