This Thing Called Life by Christian Borstlap

Cover image for This Thing Called Life

This Thing Called Life by Christian Borstlap (9783791374437)

A book all about life, this picture book starts at the very beginning when life first arrived on earth. Seeds fall through the air and then the author explains the many things that life is about. It’s about reproducing (shown with an egg-shaped bird next to an equally large egg.) It’s about moving, feeling, perceiving, breathing. There is giving and taking, complete with a visual poop joke. It’s also about survival, about hiding when necessary and being obvious and loud too. You may have to fight or flee. Life comes in all sizes and is still being discovered. Life is not fair and is unpredictable. It can be long or very short. But most importantly, life is to be lived together, connected to one another.

Originally published in French in Canada and created by a Dutch author/illustrator, this picture book is based on a short animated video that he did. The video, embedded below, shares a lot of the characteristics of the book and some of the same art. The book is a wild and whimsical look at life that doesn’t quite resemble life on earth, yet is not so dissimilar at times. This is not a book cataloging the animals in the world rather it’s philosophical and scientific, a mix of whimsy and fact that is captivating.

The art is done in a similar style to that of the video with lots of details and fine lines but also amazing creatures that take up almost the entire page like the “feeling” starfish that is a glowing pink or the moving two-legged creature with no real head.

Dazzling and original, this picture book is a weird look at life, just what we need. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Prestel.