June 9, 2014

French Trees!

There are so many beautiful books that center around trees. It's almost as though the tall, skinny picturebook was INVENTED to talk about trees: the trees can start at the very bottom of the page and extend all the way up, letting their leaves extend outward to the left and right corners of the book. Literal growing room. Today we're getting very specific: French trees, namely because I happened to acquire all of these books around the same time.

First for today is Laetitia Devernay's wordless picturebook The Conductor. A beautiful juxtaposition of nature and music, a man sits atop a tree and conducts the leaves in a visual magnum opus. Every page turn shows the leaves following the direction of the conductor, the leaves and nature surrounding him swirling together to create a visual masterpiece. The leaves take on lives as their own, appearing as almost bird-like creatures and creating a sense that the whole spread is alive with movement. Like the other two books below, this one heavily features a need for humans to continue planting trees to prevent the inevitable destruction of the world's forests.

Next on the list is by my new favorite French illustrator Émilie Vast. Il était un arbe (There Was a Tree) is almost wordless--each spread features either a word or a fragmented sentence that follows the life of a tree through the seasons as the animals around it survive off of it. Vast's use of color is impeccable, highlighting the parts of the tree that the animals use for themselves, and every other spread has a small hole, or window, if you will, that offers up a glimpse into the life of the animal and how it uses the tree for sustenance. Check it out:

Here we see deer in the "first" spread
And here we see how the deer use the tree to sustain themselves. Each "second" spread also shows readers the footprints of each animal, highlighting their lives after using the tree
Another "first" spread
Not to play favorites, but this one might be my favorite on the list. And when I say "might," I mean that it definitely is. Wake Up Sloth! by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud is amazing, dear readers. Although it offers a really sad commentary about deforestation and the animals and people that are sadly affected, the illustrations are cheery and engaging. Each new spread shows the forest as humans slowly destroy it, taking its resources for itself. But can you find the tiny (and astoundingly, unaffected) sloth hanging in the trees? It serves as a seek-and-find pop-up, as well as a message about deforestation, and although the ending definitely wraps up a little too well, the illustrations more than make up for it. SUCH a fun book!

My favorite spread! And you can see the sloth hanging on the top right
An excellent topic, indeed! Anyone have any other favorite tree books?

Save the trees, write blog posts instead!!


  1. I LOVE The Conductor and the two others you've featured look marvelous too. I feel much kinship with your picture book sensibility!

    1. Hi Danielle! Thanks so much! Sorry about the MASSIVE delay in response here--only just now revamping the blog, but I'm so glad you enjoy The Conductor as much as I do, and I look forward to a LOT more cross over between interests :)