by Laetitia Devernay
Well here's a curious thing. This hardback book is an extraordinary format for a start. Almost 13 inches high (33cm) and 6 wide (15cm), this is a tall book. Not quite as long and thin as the case a conductor might carry his baton in but not too far off and very apposite that would be. It is certainly the right format for a book that takes trees and turns them into something else entirely. Laetita Devernay is an award winning artist and author of several books for children. This volume would suit all ages and particularly those with a love for classical music or art and design. Told without words, this is the story of a conductor who walks into a forest, climbs a tree and creates a symphony of movement and pattern from the trees around him.
Devernay deftly lifts the leaves from her trees and transforms them into flying birds. Slowly at first, just one, then a few more, the movement building just like a piece of classical music.
And just as with an orchestra there are different tones to be struck with the differing patterns and designs of the neighbouring trees and as they all slowly achieve flight and combine in the air they leave behind their earthly stability and luxuriate in the open space of the sky.
For the reader this actually means the page becomes dominated by the patterns of these 'birds' in much the same way as the decorative patterns of William Morris. There is an easy visual pleasure to be enjoyed from flicking through the pages of this book that comes not just from the aesthetic beauty of Devernay's illustrations but also from the movement she has been able to 'orchestrate.' Your eye moves about the page just as I'm sure she intended it to and though the book may be short and its lasting impact limited it is a fascinating combination of book, art, narrative and movement.