If you hold it in your hands, at the beginning it seems like any other book, with a lively cover illustration, in the typical style of Emmanuelle Houdart. Santa Claus has just arrived loaded with presents, but he doesn’t keep them inside a sack nor has he already put them into a stocking by the tree or by the fireplace: the presents pop out of an elegant big boot decorated with stars and snowflakes, whereas a penguin with funny long drawers decorated with hearts reaches out towards all those wonders. But it’s early yet: we have to wait for 24 days to be allowed to pull the multi-coloured bows and discover what is hidden inside the packages! Luckily the little daily events will help us to be patient: since December 1st we feel a festive atmosphere.
Let us move toward the Holy Night setting off with a series of funny characters that turn Christmas into a winter Carnival. The first one is a bear all dressed up with its baby on his head and a baggage of plants and flowers; he is followed by a mother-boot carrying on board two little wolves with a book and a playhouse. We are going to meet animals relaxing in a travel bathtub, a snowman with a portable spruce and a spare igloo, a book which is half an angel and half a devil and holds in its hands two eggs ready for the hatch, a steamer-cup on a single wheel with a pretty handbag, a rabbit pulling a zebra-striped sled, a little girl-painter on a boat heading for the clouds and many, many others. The journey is long and some creatures walk, some fly, some ski, some choose a weird means of transport, some prefer to pause and exchange presents, sweets and gestures of affection.
In the world of Emmanuelle Houdart, strange metamorphoses blur the boundaries between creatures, give eyes and smiles to the objects, make animals wear clothes of many different styles. Day after day, we can easily kill time thanks to these images, decorated with bizarre motifs and rich of small details that encourage us to build a story around each character participating in the Christmas parade. But it isn’t over: like in any advent calendar, for each day there is a small window hiding a surprise, although there aren’t real windows here, but first of all we need to find the flap of paper to lift up on every page. Is it the smoke rising from a chimney? Or the top of a pram? Or is it a small tree worn as a hat? And what will become of the story we had imagined for each illustration after a new detail appears and mess it up?
25 days, 25 surprises, countless stories to invent while waiting for the much-desired Christmas day. And afterwards, what shall we do? No fear, the calendar unfolds connecting the different illustrations to create two long scenes on the front and on the back, perfect to be hanged on the wall or put on a piece of furniture, to remember that Christmas will soon come again and smile at the thought every single day of the year.
“A lot of wonderful and terrible things happened in my life, as well as in everybody else’s. And this is what I draw, the wonderful and the terrible.”
Painter and illustrator Emmanuelle Houdart was born in Switzerland in 1967. After graduating from the École des Beaux-Arts in Sion and the École Supèrieure d’Arts Visuel in Geneva, she moved to Paris. Besides contributing to many newspapers and magazines (Libération, Le Monde, Sciences et Vie Junior, Ça m’intéresse… ), she published a dozen books as a writer and illustrator, and she illustrated about twenty children’s books. Her style is highly personal and characterized by the use of rich and sharp colours, outlining a fantastic though extremely real and tangible world.
In 2003 she won the Prix Octogone, category Prix Graphique (CIELJ), for Les Choses que je sais. Two years later she received an award for Monstres malades at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and in 2006 she won the Grand Prix du Livre Jeunesse of the Society of Men of Letters of France for Les Voyages merveilleux de Lilou la fée.
Her books for #logosedizioni are: Va tutto bene Merlino!, Amiche per la vita, Il denaro, Saltimbanchi, Il guardaroba, Genitori felici, Una lunga storia d’amore, Rifugi, Emilia Mirabilia, Mia madre, Mostri malati, Il mio pianeta and Sfilata di Natale. Un calendario dell'avvento.
|Dimensions||cm 23,8 x 16,6|
|Viaggio verso il Natale||Ville & Casali||01-12-2018|
|Non è Natale senza una fiaba||Leggere Tutti||01-12-2018|
|Via con l'avvento||Marie Claire||01-12-2018|
|Sfilata di Natale||Libri Manent||www||01-01-2019|