December 14, 2018


The Fishing Lesson by Heinrich Böll was first published in 1963 and has been retold many times, though it's hard to think that anyone created illustrations for the story as stunning as Emile Bravo's.

This well-seasoned story tells the tale of a humble fisherman who is napping on his boat when a tourist interrupts him to ask why he's napping and not fishing. In fact, the tourist points out, if the fisherman were to go out and catch more fish he could probably catch enough to afford to buy a motorboat, open a cannery, build restaurants, and more. Essentially, if the fisherman worked harder, he would be reaping better rewards. But the unfazed fisherman has his own ideas of what success looks like and imparts a meaningful message to readers about what it means to achieve inner happiness.

As I said before, the illustrations are just absolutely stunning. The book has comic-like panels so the pacing (and therefore the humor) is incredible well thought-out and very deliberate. Although many colors are used to illustrate the book, Bravo definitely focuses more strongly on blues and oranges to  capture the most important parts of the illustrations. The drawings themselves look almost like ink mixed with screen prints, so they are dense, colorful, and full of enough detail to clarify what we're looking at without being too messy. And while the punch line at the end might feel like it falls a little flat given all the build-up of the previous thirty-something pages, the message will stick with you for a long time to come.

The Fishing Lesson published from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers earlier this year.

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