All at sixes and sevens as I cannot decide which of two new books that have just appeared in the shop is my favourite – perhaps one doesn’t have to choose?
Many of my colleagues are just an enamoured and beguiled by these two as I am, so we have been showing them to customers (not of course for reason of Commerce, but just because your life is a little better for seeing them!) who are also intrigued.
A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Allemagna is utterly charming – not least because of its unusual design, this picture book is 28cm by 37cm and opens landscape, along the 37cm axis. The illustrations are a wonderful and evocative mix of drawing, watercolours and collage. It is the story of a lion who, bored by his rural life in the savannah, seeks excitement and opportunity in the city of light. On arrival in Paris the lion is disappointed to find that despite his size, people barely pay attention to him, not even when he lets out a ferocious roar on the busy Metro. Inspired by a Parisian statue of a lion, this oddly moving book successfully conveys the experience of being a stranger in a new city and the process of understanding our own identity.
The other book that has us all hot and bothered is the fascinating Maps by award-winning Polish illustrators Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska. It too is aimed at children but we have noticed many adults poring over it. The hand-drawn maps show not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events and many more fascinating facts associated with every region – including an excellent two page spread on New Zealand, not to mention the Arctic, Great Britain and Italy.
How does one decide between them? I refuse to, and already have a couple of each stashed for present-giving…