In This Book
Illustrator Joëlle Jolivet
Author Fani Marceau
Chronicle Books, Format Hbk, 64pp 282mm x 245mm
Price AUD $27.95, ISBN 978-1452125886
Details of French Edition First published as: Dans le livre by helium, 18 rue Séguier 75006 Paris, 2012
Early years picture books don’t come much more charming than In This Book: a winning combination of simple words and bold visuals. The book begins: I am in the poppy, said the bee take the viewer through everyday and adventurous places: forests and farms, kitchens and clouds. That simple statement I am in the… invites the listener to identify closely with each image. These include a tiger, lighthouse keeper, a scorpion, a swimmer, a snail, a tractor, a hammer a sleeping dog. It’s a generous and frequently surprising list.
In This Book gives voice to the natural and intimate world of the young child – where the boundary the human and natural worlds can be very thin indeed.
Joëlle Jolivet’s images have a look of being made as linocuts, although some are (I think) purely digital. The overall feel is of something very hand-made and personal. The double page spread of a prowling tiger is one of many striking pieces, the tiger’s stripes mingling with the forest leaves.
Jolivet’s eye for space and colour, her simple sweeping lines and bold contrasts touched here and there with detail and texture makes for continuously enjoyable reading. Playfulness and surprises spring also from the contrast in subjects and images, flipping from a seed in the ground to a baby in a stroller, to a butterfly in a net. The apparent randomness captures the way a child encounters the world: immediate, tactile, curios and speculative.
But In This Book all ends satisfyingly – wherever we have been and whatever we have seen – with the child sleeping nested in a parent’s arms.
About the illustrator
Joëlle Jolivet is perhaps best known for her illustrations in 365 Penguins (text by Jean-Luc Fromental, naïve, 2007), which became a worldwide hit and Zoology, another oversized high impact picture book. In that sense, In This Book could serve as a more modest introduction to those bigger, more intensely illustrated books. Either way, In This Book is a lasting pleasure.
Joëlle Jolivet studied first at L'école supérieure d'arts graphiques Penninghen and then graphic art and advertising at the School of Applied Art in Paris (Arts Appliqués de Paris). Her interest in engraving and printing led to a year in the lithography workshop at the School of Fine Art (Ecole de beaux arts) in Paris. This led to lino-cutting, which has remained her main mode ever since.
See Jöelle at work in her studio, including working with her ancient printmaking tools.