I don’t remember how I found out about this gorgeous book. Probably when I was browsing Amazon in the shop pretending to work! Well, if I didn’t have I would have never come across The Flower and Lisa Evan’s illustrations. And it would have been my loss.
The flower is the story of Brigg, a sad-looking kid in a sad-looking city. He lives in a grey building, and goes to work every morning under a grey rain, in a grey library. But libraries are the place where the dangerous books are kept and one day Brigg finds one. It has pictures of beautifully coloured things called flowers. Brigg is filled with joy looking at the pictures but he’s sad because there is no flower in the city. He looks everywhere until he arrives in the old part of town where in the window of a junk shop he sees the picture of a flower! They are seeds and when he takes them home he gathers a bunch of dust and waters them. One morning, the seeds blossom and Brigg’s room is filled with wonderful colours….until the room cleaning system sucks them away. But Brigg knows where the flower might be. Outside the city, where the big hips of dust are…
This is a strange and fascinating book. It’s set in the future, where flowers have disappeared, probably sucked away by the cleaning systems. The sad feeling of greyness is perfectly conveyed by Evan’s illustrations. So much that when the picture of the flower appears, so pink and bright, it lights up the whole page.
I love almost every illustrations of this book. I like when things that are not in the texts are added independently. Like Brigg’s big funny looking cat. Or the lovely patterned kettle with which Brigg waters the seeds. The junk shop is a great example of this. It spreads over two pages and kids could play at spotting all the things and animals hidden in the windows. And then there’s the explosion of flowers and plants and happiness when the plant grows in Brigg’s room. If you look closely you can spot two stripy socks, the kettle, an umbrella, the book, an alarm clock and the omni present cat.
It really is visually stunning. Even when the flowers are not in the pictures, there’s always something unusual to notice, like the way the words He buries the seeds in it and added some water look like they're pouring out of the kettle into the mug.
But what I love most maybe is the message. Flowers can give happiness only by looking at them. They are extraordinary and yet so natural. I couldn’t imagine living in a world without them, and any book that reminds us of how precious they are must be treasured.
Lisa Evans is a relatively new name in the world of illustrations. But she has already been noticed: She was selected as one of the top ten best new illustrators, together with some of my favourites (Oliver Jeffers, Polly Dunbar, Emily Gravett, Catherine Raynar…).
As a result, her work is on display till the May 3rd, at the Illustration Cupboard in London. I’d love to go but I know I won’t. It’s great to know, though, that there’s a gallery dedicate to the art of illustrations. I MUST go there next time I’m in London.
Lisa Evans has also a lovely website, complete with gallery and blog. You must visit it!
I can’t post a direct link to the gallery, so you need to go to the main page, click on "gallery", then on "sequential" and then find The Flower. You can see 4 full pages.
Make sure you browse around cause she has some pretty amazing stuff. My attention was caught by two books in particular: “One upon a holiday” and “The star belly monster” on her blog, but unfortunately I can’t find a way to buy them. But I’ll keep trying.