Unsere Ferien, shown here, is the German edition of the French title Nos Vacances by Blexbolex (Bernard Granger). Its English title, in the edition available from Gecko Press, is The Holidays. Rather than a slim picturebook, it is a 128-page book that looks and feels like a traditional novel, only one that has no words.
The story, which requires careful ‘visual reading’, revolves around a little girl staying with her grandfather over the summer holidays. She is quite content until the arrival of a small elephant, with whom she is supposed to share both her grandfather and the private world she has previously enjoyed alone. She resents this change, and it is only later that she realises she has misjudged the situation.
The book, which has already received the prestigious French Pépite 2017 award, explores the complications of friendship in a series of highly detailed, screen-printed images. In an interview with the Curiously Good Book Club, Blexbolex describes how he created his wordless narrative. He says: ‘I see this book as a sort of theatre. Usually the double-page image is a scene, and the vignettes – generally at the rim of the pages – are actions that take place within it. The book is, very classically, divided in four acts and (almost) each double page is a scene. It’s a play that takes place in a book rather than on a stage.’
With a strong, dream-like story, images that invite you to immerse yourself in them, and gloriously rich deep colours, this is a beautiful book that demands time and attention in order to be savoured fully.