Monday, November 25, 2013

Picture Book Monday - A review of Hello, Mr. Hulot

It is not easy to tell a story using art when you only have a few pages to work with, and yet in this book the illustrator does this twenty-two times, giving readers little stories that are sweet, funny, and delightfully odd. It is a book that comic book fans will enjoy, and it is also a book that art lovers of all ages will find intriguing.

Hello Mr. HulotHello, Mr. Hulot
David Merveille
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
NorthSouth, 2013, 978-0-7358-4135-2
In France a character called Mr. Hulot was created and played by a comic actor called Jacques Tati. Mr. Hulot featured in four films in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and he became hugely popular. Being a big fan of Mr. Hulot, David Merveille has created illustrations capturing twenty-two vignettes from the films. Comic book style artwork brings these almost wordless scenarios to life, giving readers a truly unique picture book experience.
   We begin with Mr. Hulot going into a souvenir shop in Paris. He buys a snow globe with a miniature Eiffel Tower inside. When he takes the globe outside and shakes it, it starts to snow, in real life! Snow also plays a big part in another vignette in the book. Mr. Hulot is walking down a snowy sidewalk when a boy throws a snowball at him. Mr. Hulot throws a snowball back, and he hits a man walking behind the boy. In no time the snowball fight escalates and soon the whole street is full of people happily throwing snowballs at one another.
   In The Umbrella Corner we see that Mr. Hulot is a kind man. Mr. Hulot is standing at a bus stop and it starts to rain. He puts up his umbrella and one by one birds fly in and land by his feet. They want to shelter from the rain too. When the bus arrives Mr. Hulot makes a decision and he leaves his umbrella lodged in a nearby tree so that his bird acquaintances have shelter from the rain.
   Each little pictorial story or vignette in this book is beautifully paced so that the dénouement always appears after a page is turned, thus keeping tension going until the end. There is a cinematographic flavor throughout the book that makes each story memorable and a good to look at.

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