Speaking just one language - English - it's easy to look at other cultures and see what is different as a lack or an absence. But learning just a little of the language also opens up a place, its people and culture to new ways of seeing. This website aims to look at France through its picture books. Over time perhaps a picture will begin to emerge of the creative energy, fine productions and diverse array of stories the best French picture books can offer.
French picture books in English is an attempt to learn a little more about the creators who make the jump across la manche, or the Atlantic, and sometimes even down to Oceania. (Two of the most active publishers are based in New Zealand.) Some writers and illustrators who are stars in Europe are virtually unknown to English language readers. The website is an independent, not-for-profit project.
About the editor
Mike Shuttleworth is a specialist in children's and youth literature. He was worked as a literary program manager, librarian, curator and book reviewer. He is currently the convenor for the Prime Minister's Literary Award panels for Children's and Young Adult books. He curated the exhibition Look! The art of Australian picture books today for the State Library of Victoria, managed events for the Melbourne Writers Festival and was program manager at the Centre for Youth Literature. In France they would say he is un grand amateur.
So what's his connection with French picture books? Mike has visited France numerous times and attended book festivals in Angoulême, St Malo and Paris. Back in Australia, he couldn't help but notice the number of French originated titles appearing on the shelves in art museums, cool gift shops, good bookshops and libraries. This website continues his interest in the cultural and artistic world of the picture books of France.
And finally, why only French picture books? Mike Shuttleworth says: "I'm fascinated by the quality of illustration, the design, the production standards. And where else do you find original, creative minds like Hervé Tullet, Janik Coat or Kitty Crowther? I'm also interested in the ways that traditions of art making find their way in to children's books, and are transmitted to new generations."
"I have been fortunate to travel to France numerous times ( though my language skills are still lamentable). Each time I seek out the bookshops stocking the most creative names in children's publishing. There is so much to discover."