Wednesday, April 20, 2011

French Finesse

This gorgeous volume by Jean-François Martin was the winner of this year's 
Bologna Ragazzi Award in the fiction category.

Jean-François Martin is a graphic designer and illustrator living in Paris. Since 1993, 
he has published many children's books with major French companies like Nathan, Flammarion, and Bayard. 
Fables d'Esope has come out for Milan Jeunesse, the same lovely people who last year published 
Sebastiano's Animal RainbowIn fact, when we visited Milan's booth to talk about future projects, 
I completely forgot to take a good look at the book, so the following photos come courtesy of School Library Journal.

Both illustrations and typography have a wonderful retro feel,
but I'll let the jury do the talk, since they are much more eloquent than me: 

“Countless illustrators have returned down the ages to the ancient magic of the fairytale.
 Here it seems that Felix Valloton in his halcyon years has returned to instill a new pace
 into a time-honoured tale, without, however, diminishing its power. The splendid illustrations resonate 
to mysterious melodies. Allusive line-work, intriguing faces and a subtle blend of ochre and grey tones
 are all bathed in a captivating surreal light that draws everything together. A truly magnificent 
“tale of all tales”, this book is a typographical masterpiece blending to perfection beautiful type faces 
with an unusual yet extraordinarily harmonious amalgam of delicate almost unsubstantiated hues.”

Funny thing is, when I visited Albin Michel's booth I was drawn to the striking cover
of this book of cat tales. The inside illustrations were also very intriguing, so I took 
quite a few photos and only days after I realized that they were by the same artist.

As you can see, these artworks too are rich with historical references.
The scene above in particular strongly reminds me of William Nicholson's woodcuts

Well, it was love at first sight...
Now I can't wait to see more of Martin's books, 
including the very promising Nouvel abécédaire Russe!


  1. Great post! These books look amazing, love the illustrations, especially the last one.

  2. Great Illustrations love the simplicity of them and the use of colours.



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