a mighty good picture book

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30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay 13: The Mighty Lalouche

by Mathew Olshan and illus by Sophie Blackall

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013

mighty lalouchecover“One hundred and a few-odd years ago, in Paris, France, there lived a humble postman named Lalouche” (1). When he is let go from the postal service and needing work, he finds that the skills that made him successful as a postman proved especially useful winning in La boxe française.

mighty lalouche-insert

The above image gives you a sense of scale and difference; the commanding presence and theater of “The Anaconda” over the ‘under-dog’ a newcomer with a straightforward name and approachable face.

The mightly Lalouche is a modest man whose vanities and dreams are relatively small, a virtue that is rewarded. The Mighty Lalouche is a quiet story whose elegance could easily be overlooked by its own modest presentation–of story, anyway. Mathew Olshan creates a disarming character in Lalouche and historical Paris. Disarming, too, is Sophie Blackall’s illustrations. Like Olshan’s story, her images would invite the reader into the remarkable man’s life and times. (my favorite scene, left page, here.)

I decided to create layered dioramas which would give depth to the scenes. I painted first in Chinese ink, the way I always do, then painted the color washes over that, then cut out all the individual elements and assembled the scenes. It was very time consuming, but really, really fun. –Sophie Blackall, in Book Page interview.

It takes on that beautiful effect of the paper-craft films (example). This would be a lovely project, Blackall’s art, Olshan’s words. This, too, would translate into a clever series of historical figures. The Mighty Lalouche is such a coherent work, pleasing to the ear and eye. And there are bonus features, a small glossary of French terms at the start and a note on certain historical aspects (with photographs) at the end.

mighty Lalouche-with-trophies

The Mighty Lalouche is one of the easiest picture books thus far to recommend in that it should appeal to any and all.

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7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast hosts a piece on the making of the book!

Angela Leeper for The Book Page interviews Sophie Blackall.

{images belong to Sophie Blackall}

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