This book is a fantastic debut by the Australian artist and author Pat Grant. The story is about three young and impressionable children who ditch school to surf. However, the waves prove to be too choppy and the truants slowly make their way to the site of a fatal accident. Although the children pretend to be interested in seeing the remains of the dead body (which was struck by a train), none of them are too eager about seeing the grizzly scene.
The victim is a member of some blue alien race, ostensibly. Clearly the creature is a foreigner, an immigrant, whom the children and the rest of the "natives" of Bolton, Australia (all the main characters are white immigrants) see as invaders; detrimental to the survival of a town that is already crumbling. The journey to see the dead body is filled with xenophobia, instilled into the children by the town's adults. The children, meanwhile, only see the dead body as a testament to the aliens simply being another living creature, deserving of pity not a barbaric curiosity.
This is not to say that the author Pat Grant completely condones those afraid of the blue immigrants. Instead, he offers a balanced opinion. He demonstrates the immigrants' humanity, even the things that make humanity a character trait capable of both good and not good (shown by the narrator whose job - in the future - is to tirelessly like a modern-day Sisyphus clean off the Blue graffiti from the city's walls).
Grant also uses the image of a secret and possibly impossible surfing spot to show nature's pure state, without man and before the city of Bolton existed. Prior to the Blue immigrants, the white inhabitants were the immigrants, destroying the land with buildings, a form of architectural graffiti.
On another note, Grant's artwork is brilliant. His grayscale theme with the addition of blue enforce the separation, distinction, and importance of the immigrants. They stand out even more with the color, allowing the reader to get inside the mindset of the townsfolk. Yet, with the blue coloring of backgrounds (such as the sky and the ocean) and details (like the comic books or plants) the immigrants seem to become more and more a part of the fabric of the town. They are also symbolic of change, the natural progression of all things for good or bad. Simultaneously, the children are learning what it means to grow up (a coming of age story at its best) as well as exploring what it means to be a child, as their innocence comes ever closer to an end with every step toward the location of the graphic remains.
Pat Grant is a rare example of a fantastic artist and storyteller. He is able to expertly weave the worlds of picture and word together to tell, in the end, a rather simple story: Three children skip school to see a dead body (remind you of Stephen King? The author addresses this in the back of the book). Grant refuses to let a sentence or an image rest without some meaning. Everything exists for a purpose and I look forward to his follow-up.
Also, you can read this story in its entirety online at [...] (but you will miss his enlightening commentary at the end). However, if you care at all about furthering the arts, patronizing an up-and-coming artist, or just want to feel the physical ink on the physical page, I urge you to purchase a copy for yourself and others.