Natalia Chernysheva’s The Return

h1 May 14th, 2020 by jules


Originally published in 2014 as O regresso, Natalia Chernysheva’s The Return (Groundwood Books) hit shelves in the U.S. last Fall, and I missed it. Better late than never.

A woman leaves the bustling city on a bus and heads into a less-populated part of the country. In fact, the house at which she arrives seems to be in the middle of nowhere. When she reaches the house, she stands high above it, as if a giant. Standing outside is a miniscule elderly woman in a floppy yellow hat, looking up at the woman adoringly.

On the next spread, we are afforded the older woman’s perspective and look up from the ground at the visitor, looming large above in her polka-dotted dress. The elderly woman hugs the visitor but is only small enough to grab on to her ankle. After the visitor leans down to kiss the woman and then smells her home-made soup, things shift. At the page turn, the visitor is suddenly a girl again, as you can see in the spreads below.

Is the visitor reunited with her grandmother and feeling once again as if she’s a child? It’s up to readers to decide in this spare, elqouent, affecting story, rendered in ink and monoprint illustrations. There is a spare use of color — yellows and reds — to accentuate the books emotional undercurrents.

Chernysheva is a film director, animator, and artist, who lives in Russia. This picture book is based upon Le Retour, an award-winning film she directed:

Here are some spreads from the book. …


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THE RETURN. Copyright © Bruaá Editora, 2014. Published in Canada and the USA in 2019 by Groundwood Books. Illustrations reproduced by their permission.

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