Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Le Géant - L'Atelier du Poisson Soluble

Le Géant by Nicolas Thers, L'Atelier du Poisson Soluble, May 2010

"Maman et moi avons décidé d’adopter un Géant! C’est mieux d’être trois pour regarder les étoiles."*

This is how the new book by Nicolas Thers - Le Géant, the giant, for the French soluble fishes - starts.

Title and cover already reveal a lot: the one that is portrayed is a giant that scarcely resembles the scary Polyphemus or Roald Dahl's bad giants, no trace of Rabelaisian’s memories are left with this tall titan, otherwise it's the businessman's, or the doctor's or the banker's aspect that dominates if ever. A real urban mastodon, in jacket and white shirt.

Though he is gigantic, no doubt!

When I first saw this book, I was completely blown away by the images, the use of colour and the quality of the images, quite unusual though totally convincing, really struck me. Visual impact was such that, at the very beginning, the message contained in the book became less evident.

Though I want to start talking of the message contained in the book, before analysing the images, because it deals with a subject touching many families, be them the result of a separation or of widowhood, which break up to then reset otherwise.

The narrator of the story is a girl telling how she and her mom decided to adopt a giant, exactly! It seems there are very good reasons to adopt a giant, and the explanation is abundantly detailed.

Of course, in the presence of such a tall being, feeling frightened and a bit suspicious as well is totally understandable, at least in the start but then, if the colossus is kind, if he offers us a few presents and showers us with attentions, if he allows us to explore him a bit and takes good care of us, then becoming friends is unavoidable.

I was really amused by how the author decided to expose this role game, giant/girl, where the third character - the mother - is nothing but secondary to the purposes of narration, as she only appears in the sentence I quoted at the beginning of the post and she is never represented in the images.

The whole book plays around the slow and constant approach between the two: of course images and text go completely along with the kid's vision emphasising her fears at first, that materialize in the representation of the giant's physical power while the girl is almost invisible (see the image above), to then illustrate the gradual acceptance of the man, that corresponds with the slow resizing of both characters until they reach a reasonable physical dimension (see images below).

The character's real dimensions recuperating process, with the consequent balance change in the original role game, develops through the slow and constant physical approach between the two: the girl, that at the beginning of the book was just a small coloured dot in the distance, gains more and more substance when she starts moving towards the giant, as if to affirm that the growth of a human being can take place only when he gets connected to the people around him.

As for the images, Thers had great fun playing with photomontage reworked with graphic palette, the colours are clear, simple, immediate. As I was saying before the tables are all centred on a skilful and audacious perspective game, their urban setting, almost futuristic, gives the images a touch of surreal that goes very well with the unlikeliness of the situation at the start. In a not too far future, giants will get out of their hiding places and will become mates and daddies.

A beautiful picture book, perfect identification with child's imaginary and positive résumé of the mechanisms hiding behind modern families.

* "Mummy and me have decided to adopt a Giant! It's better to be three to look at the stars."

Copyright© text and images L'Atelier du Poisson Soluble, 2010. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the publisher, all reproduction is strictly forbidden.

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