Thursday 6 October 2011

'musical movement'

The Conductor
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.


Nivedita Barve 6 October 2011 at 13:28  

Very beautiful pictures! I think the idea of orchestration in the forest is quite splendid!

Natasha Milburn Lalita (Novelist) 7 October 2011 at 00:42  

Beautiful. Feeds my story book mania. The drawing and the word are always so fascinating together. I am on an opinion that literature should merge with the visual media as much as possible. At first glance it reminded me of the Little Prince

William Rycroft 7 October 2011 at 09:18  

Nivedita, the illustrations are lovely aren't they? Decorative and yet very simple. As LOLITA says, there's something of The Little Prince in their simplicity. With no words in it at all it's quite a hard book to describe really. One to experience first hand.

Max Cairnduff 16 October 2011 at 15:53  

It's hard not to think about the Little Prince when looking at it certainly. The links seem very strong.

An interesting find Will, how did you come across it?

It might make a great gift for the right child too. I'm not suggesting it's just for children, but some would adore it I suspect.

William Rycroft 17 October 2011 at 10:10  

I was actually contacted by the publisher, the kind of email I tend to scan and ignore generally as the books are of little interest to me personally but something about this one intrigued. I'm glad I did get it and I think you're right that it would make a great gift for the right person.

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