Review: Windblown by Édouard Manceau
By Édouard Manceau
In Stores April 9, 2013
Simple shapes. Lots of white space. Created by a Frenchman. Sound familiar? If your first thought was Hurve Tullet’s Press Here, you’re not alone. But although Édouard Manceau’s Windblown shares some elements of Tullet’s 2011 standout, it is also quite different in some important ways. Windblown is a book that screams, “Turn me into a craft already!!!”. We should all listen. Indeed, the success of the book depends on it.
What’s the deal with the seven multi-colored shapes blowing across the page?
There’s a cast of animal characters – from chicken to fish to bird to snail to frog – who lay claim to the shapes. This cumulative story introduces the animals one by one, as the shapes assemble and reassemble to illustrate each character. It’s the wind, however, that gets the upper hand.
‘And with one last gust,
I’ll blow them over to you.’
They’re yours now too.
What will you do?
In terms of interaction, Windblown isn’t like Press Here, where each page is an invitation to engage. No, Windblown has an ending that encourages the reader to get creative (see above). Before you read this at story time, do yourself a favor and whip up a batch (or 20) of the shapes seen in the book. Thankfully, the work is mostly done for you thanks to an activity page on the Owlkids website.
Trust me – when you’re finished reading, kids will be ready to use them. (Side note: if Owlkids aren’t working on an app version of this book, they should – it’s perfect material for the touch screen realm.)
While Tullet is the instant comparison, Windblown‘s abstract-to-concrete theme reminds me more of the work of Michael Hall – specifically Perfect Square and My Heart is a Zoo (two books that circulate very well at my K-2 building). Windblown would make a good story time pairing with either of those books.
The illustrations are simple and playful. Minimalist, to be sure. Aside from some simple black lines used to flesh out to the animal characters, the shapes you see on the cover are pretty much it.
On its own, Windblown is pretty good. It reaches its full potential, however, when the concept of the book is translated in real life. I hope that happens often. Get your scissors.
Review copy from the publisher.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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