Waterloo & Trafalgar by Olivier Tallec
Released October 22, 2012.
In this wordless picture book, two men watch one another over neighboring walls, separated only by a thin line of grass dotted with flowers. Both sides of the wall are very similar, both men have spyglasses, drinks and umbrellas. Their days are filled with boredom and suspicion, broken only by the appearance of a snail who visits them both and moments where they bother one another with music and loud noises. It isn’t until a bird arrives and lays an egg that hatches and runs away that the truth of the conflict is revealed. Tallec has managed in no words at all to show the fallacy of conflict and the way to peace.
Tallec uses humor here to bridge any divide. It is mostly physical humor that will have children laughing, successfully mocking the conflict without any words at all. The snail is a particularly inspired piece of humor that is sure to surprise and please. So much of this book is about the surprises that life brings with the ending of the book providing the biggest and best surprise of all. There is a great playfulness that invites readers into this serious situation to a degree that without it would not have been possible. The wordless nature of the book also makes it particularly suited to a subject of crossing barriers. I can see using this with people who speak different languages, allowing a depth of discussion that would be unusual with other wordless books.
This book is outstanding. It speaks to peace without any preaching, allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions. It is a striking and vibrant example of what can be achieved with no words at all. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.