Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Grand Journey of Mr. Man

Author: Gilles Tibo
Illustrator: Luc Melanson
English translation: Sheila Fischman
Publisher- Dominique & Friends, 2001
Ages- 4 and above

The book cover intrigued me enough to pick up the book. And we loved this moving journey.

The story is about the loss of a loved one, the sorrow, the hope and deliverance. In a very subtle manner it tells you that you need to find peace from within and new meanings and relationships can flourish if you let them. And a family need not necessarily be a biological one.

The story opens with the very direct words " After the death of his child....."
Mr Man loses interest and leaves home holding on only to his son's teddy bear and a chair to travel on. So begins the journey which takes him on trains, to beaches, circuses and parks. There is so much sadness in the minimal text and the full page visuals that it is heart breaking.

The teddy takes the place of the missing son be it at a swing or at the circus where he waits for the laughter to die down. Mr Man travels by a liner and you notice in contrast to all the families with children, he is alone with his chair and clutching on to the teddy bear.

Mr Man continues to travel towns and roams the streets. Finally he reaches the end of the world. A little boy who has lost his home and family in the war, is crying. His sole possession is a rag doll.

Mr Man restores a chair and gives it to the boy. They sit, each on his chair, they listen and talk.As for the story's end, suffice to say that it is more a new beginning.

Words are frugally and effectively used in the story and the visuals are simply arresting. The people in the illustrations look like a V zoom stretch option on TV with the legs rendered extra long. There is a lot of light and shadow play and details which will enchant any picture book lover.

No wonder, the illustrator- Luc Melanson- won the Governor General’s Literary Award – Children’s Illustration in 2002 for this book which was also an IBBY CANADA choice book in 2003. It has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Galician!!


starry eyed said...

Sounds like I book we will definitely get! Thanks Art!

ranjani.sathish said...

Very moving story and a neat review Art ! Would like to check this one out.

artnavy said...

You will love it Starry.Got it at the Book fair!!

Ranjani- I thought it may be too sad for Anush. But since it was the parent in mourning for most part, it did not distress her... only saddened her... you know what I mean?

Anyway the end was so optimistic she was happy.

nanands said...

Good review... captures the essence of the book.

wordjunkie said...

what a moving story. Will definitely look out for it.

artnavy said...

thanks nanands

come over to blore and we can trade books with each other- in fact all of us!!

Subhashree said...

Moving story, Art. Pity I didn't find the book at the book fair :(

artnavy said...

Maybe your library will have it? ...or we can meet up and trade..

So what are the gems you found there?

Meera Sriram said...

Profound yet very optimistic. Seems like a great book. I was just wondering if would be oK for 4+ when I noticed you have a valid observation there - to the little ones, its probably just something sad...

artnavy said...

I think kids are more worried about the loss of parents/grand parents... so in that sense it is easier for them to accept since the man is more in focus in this tale, except in the last few pages where the orphaned child is introduced?

Would you agree?

Meera Sriram said...

Yes, I agree Art. I don't think the man's state would be distressing to them as much as reading about the loss of a pet / friend / parent. Even for other stuff like being orphaned, books are probably gentle tools for exposing and discussing.

sandhya said...

Am picking this up when we meet!

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