‘Pairing two seemingly disparate elements an orchestra conductor and a grove of trees award-winning artist Laetitia Devernay herself orchestrates a visual magnum opus. Her spare, yet intricate, illustrations truly appear to take flight before our eyes and her wordless narrative nearly roars with sound as the conductor prompts the leaves to rustle, then whirl, then swirl to unexpected life with each turn of the page.’
The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay is a wordless picture book which tells the tale of a conductor orchestrating the leaves off the tree’s. The book is very simplistic, it has greenish hues to it and is full of dark colours. The trees and the conductor are the only shapes present on most pages. I found this book to be beautiful but disappointing. From an artistic point of view I could not fault the illustrator. Her drawings are exceptional and have a minimalist beauty about them, they are meticulously executed. The best example being her ability to make the leaves take on a birdlike image as seen below. That said, I felt that not a lot happened in this book. The protagonist basically guides the leaves off the trees and that’s it. I had to re-read the book a few times to see if I could find another interpretation but sadly that was lacking.
On a more positive note, the book is a communicative piece, as the leaves fly from the tree they take all sorts of highs and lows and the reader can almost hear the music or rustling the leaves must be making on each page. I think that this book wouldn’t appeal to a child as much as other wordless picture books such as Flotsam by David Weisner. There is very little play or amusement in the book. That said, adults would enjoy this books beauty. It is an exquisite piece of art. The book itself is a long rectangular shape which gives it an added aesthetic appeal.
In summary, The Conductor is full of beautiful illustration but the story lacks the drama or complication that makes a good picture book.
3 thoughts on “‘The Conductor’ by Lartitia Devernay-A Wordless Picture Book of minimalist beauty”
I agree that perhaps this picture book is best suited for adults! I got a chance to flip through it at the USBBY conference. It truly is exquisite.
A beautiful book! I think we need all types of picture books, including ones with a softer story or a more imaginative story that invokes questions. Why does the conductor conduct the leaves? Do the leaves obey or is the conductor matching movements to the leaves? Where do leaves go in the fall? Could they fly off like birds?
Yes you are right. This book is very abstract I think though, it isn’t too clear what’s going on at times, it’s easy on the eye but I’m not sure younger kids would grasp it. It’s definitely one to get the reader to think outside the box!