Laetitia Devernay | Chronicle books 2011 | 64 pages
Illustrator and author Laetitia Devernay has created a story worth a thousand words without a peep. The Conductor is a beautiful and beautifully unconventional book. A very tall format signals that this is no ordinary kid’s book—at least by American standards. After all, it was first published in France and picked up by Chronicle as it fits nicely in their aesthetic. Devernay illustrates what can become several stories depending on how it is interpreted, which makes the book quite a bargain! Starting with a conductor scaling a lollipop-shaped tree, this book is all about disconnections that connect and things that become other things with the wave of the baton. I’m a fan of wordless books as it makes the illustrations work harder and leaves the exact story entirely to the reader. The Conductor has obvious connections of birds to music and flight to song—but it also makes subtle inferences to leaders and followers, cooperation and conflict, order and chaos, disturbance and renewal. This is a rich little, tall book.
It is illustrated in delicate pen and ink drawings that are colored sparingly in black, shades of green and custard yellow. The pages are composed elegantly to express scale, pattern and movement. The drawings are both confident and innocent—a marriage not easily maintained for 64 pages.