Cathy is much too weak to go on an expedition.
What to do …? What to do …?
Cathy tries to laugh and tells Eiffel with a wink,
‘You could build us a railway that takes us up to the clouds in a blink.'”
(Click to enlarge)
When the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015 were recently announced, I noticed Alice Brière-Haquet’s Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower, illustrated by Csil, on the list. Published for English readers this year by Little Gestalten but originally published in French, this book has been sitting in one of many giant stacks of new picture books in my home for a while now, but there’s nothing like the NYT list to make you sit up and pay attention and go pull a book out of its pile.
I can see the pull the book must have had on this year’s judges, especially since the award is given for illustration — and the artwork is elegant, graceful. It’s the story of engineer Gustave Eiffel and his wife, Cathy, “the prettiest girl in Paris.” As the sub-title tells you, it’s a love story. Cathy gets ill, and Eiffel builds the tower in her honor. “Rumor has it that sometimes at night you can see their shadow appear in the street light.”
Here’s what the judges wrote about Csil’s artwork:
With a strict palette of black and white with dabs of light rosy red, Csil’s intricate, lacy pen-and-ink illustrations convey Eiffel’s keen attention to detail, along with the allure of Paris and the high-flying ambition of his tower. The effect is romantic and utterly charming, inviting you to look and look at the pages.
Here are a couple more spreads from the book so that you can see for yourself. …