Monday 14 April 2008

Picture Book Monday: Varmints [part one] - Helen Ward and Marc Craste

There was once only the sound of bees and the wind in the wiry grass, the low murmuring of moles in the cool dark earth...and the song of birds in the high blue sky.

So begins Varmints, a delicate yet striking story of an idyllic world turned into a noisy and dark hell, where the sound of bees is lost and no one can hear themselves think. But high above the streets, there's still someone who nurtures a little piece of wilderness, someone who still knows how to listen. And one day his wishes find hope in something growing among the towers. A miracle in the middle of all the darkness.

From the moment I picked this picture book up I knew instantly it was something special. The graphic is astonishingly beautiful. The words are lyrical and ethereal. The story is somewhat enigmatic but still so touching and poetic. It felt a bit like finding a treasure.
It doesn't look at all like a normal picture book. It resembles more a graphic novel, or an animated film transported into paper. That is because its illustrator is an animation director who was awarded the 2004 BAFTA for best animated short film for Jo Jo in the stars.
His illustrations play with light and darkness, using few colours, mostly gold, black and light shades of green and red, to portray a world that is surreal and authentic at the same time. Its characters are some rodent kind of animals, something like mice in bunny suits, with big noses and adorable sad eyes. They are kind little creatures who love to look after their plants and enjoy the sound of nature. Until the Others come and star building a world of cement and noise. This is a simple but riveting story. An ecological warning and an invite to listen more for the hidden treasures that Nature still donates us.

The title says this is "part one", so I'm hoping to be able to enjoy part two soon!


Ana S. said...

It sounds very special indeed! I'm glad you started doing these posts on picture books...I might have to add a brand new section to my wishlist :P

Melody said...

Uh Oh...another book to my wishlist! ;P Thanks for the review, Valentina!

valentina said...

nymeth, I'm glad you're glad. I'm enjoying this a lot! there's so many picture books and artist out there that I love and I'm happy to share them with you.

melody, you're welcome:) hope you can have a look at it somewhere!