One Little Word…

h1 July 15th, 2010 by jules

KA-CHINK. That was the sound of me turning on my cyber-spotlight to shine it on an international illustrator this morning. (Incidentally, I’d do this way more often if blogging were, say, my full-time job in, uh, Bizarro World. But, hey, one can dream.)

Standing in the glare of said spotlight today is author/illustrator Natalia Colombo, who studied at the Architecture and Graphic Design Faculty of Buenos Aires and whose work has been exhibited throughout Spain. I’m not sure if this is her first picture book, but I don’t believe it is. The book I speak of is called So Close and was published (the English translation, that is) by Tundra Books of Canada in May. It was originally released as Cerca in 2008 by Kalandraka Editoria.

It’s a really simple, spare story of Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit. They pass each other daily….

…”on the way to work…and on the way back.”

Yet, they never say hello to one another — whether they’re in haste or sad or happy or on foot or in cars or on bikes. And so on. These scenarios take up 90% of this picture book. The closing is devoted to the notion of what a difference one little word would make: “Hello.” And the very final illustration shows them as big pals, engaged in all kinds of camaraderie. (Coffee, anyone?) That’s about it. Publishers Weekly nails it by calling it a “serious-minded moral tale.”

Natalia’s art caught my eye, though. There’s a naievete to her art that isn’t too precious; even Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit are made of the simplest of shapes, something a child might conjure up. The backgrounds—as the aforementioned PW review mentions—are more complicated and texturized. There’s a lot of color, a lot of emotion (despite their avoidance of each other), and a lot of elongated shapes. So, this brief post today is to show you a bit of that art. I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued enough to keep my eye out henceforth for any forthcoming titles from Natalia.

You can explore more of her art here, including some more spreads from So Close. Enjoy.

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SO CLOSE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2008 by Natalia Colombo. English translation copyright © 2010 by Tundra Books, Toronto, Ontario. Images used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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7 comments to “One Little Word…”

  1. I have become a fan of the wordless picture book; a one-word (or eight word) is even a great thing. One can say so much with just a bit of art.

    This is gorgeous. And the moral tale bit is a bit heavy sounding, but the title brings it home – So Close. And yet… it takes that one little step more. Love it.


  2. I love this book. The pictures don’t do it justice because it’s even better in my hands!


  3. I loved this picture book as well. The art is stunning and the message is powerful!!


  4. For some reason that phrase “Whether they’re in haste” arrested me–I don’t know if I’ve heard “haste” in years.

    Since I write about people who are close-mouthed, the speaking silences in this book intrigued me.


  5. Those illustrations really are great. The colors seem to do such a good job of adding to the tone of the book. Like Tanita I have also recently become a fan of wordless or very sparse picture books. I’ll keep my eye out for it.


  6. This book was beautiful illustrative. Brilliant picture book.


  7. Wow – thanks for posting, I think I’ll see if I can find that locally (before I cave and order from amazon).

    From what you’ve shown, it reminds me a little of “It’s Useful to Have a Duck” by ISOL (maybe also because it was released in Spanish 1st). Have you written about that book before? If so, I didn’t see it / couldn’t find it. It’s brilliant.


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