Review: The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay


The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay

This wordless picture book is tall and narrow, just like the trees featured within.  A man enters a forest of trees that are shaped like lollipops with long trunks and round tops.  He climbs to the very top of one tree and raises his hands.  Suddenly, birds start to appear, formed from the leaves of the trees.  They fly off leaving holes in the tree leaves shaped like them.  The leaf patterns are on their wings and they fly above the conductor in a variety of formations.  Until eventually they are gone, and all that are left are the blank trees.  The man climbs down and plants a seed that quickly grows into a tree.  As he is planting, the birds return to the trees, covering them once again in leaves.  The man leaves the forest just as he has found it, but with one more small trees.  It’s a beautiful look at the environment and the impact humans can have if they choose.

The art here is wonderfully done.  It has a limited palette of just yellow, green, black and white.  The juxtaposition of tree leaves and flying birds is spectacular visually and surprising at first.  It lifts the book to a more surreal place, a world where you are unsure what could possibly happen next.  The fine lined art, the scale of the book and the gentle theme all work well together, creating a memorable whole.

A surprising wordless picture book that is a work of art, this book would work well in art curriculum or as a quiet, beautiful book to share.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.