Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Fox's Garden by Princesse CamCam
Rating: 5 stars
One cold and snowy night, a fox gets lost among endless woods and drifts of snow. She runs past one house, but gets scared off by the look of fright in the woman's eyes. She runs up to another home, but gets kicked off by an angry old man. Not knowing where else to go, the fox finds a greenhouse open and available, so she goes in to get out of the cold.
She doesn't realize a small boy watches her from his window. He gathers some food and follows her inside, and realizes that the fox is not alone. She now has a small gathering of kits around her, nursing quietly among the flowers in the greenhouse.
The boy offers what he can: a basket of gifts. Then he slowly returns to his room; he doesn't further interrupt the fox or wait for her to pay him any attention.
While the boy sleeps, the fox and her kits carry large plumes of flowers from the greenhouse to the boy's house. They all jump quietly through the window, and plant them in his room. Then, the fox family is off through the night.
The boy wakes to their grateful abundance of flowers in his own room.
There is something extremely special about this wordless picture book. I'm not entirely sure what it is--I just can't put my finger on what makes this book so magical. Princesse Camcam (I'm sure you're not shocked to hear it's not her real name, but it is a pen name you're not likely to forget--she was born Camille Garoche in southwest France) creates her own paper-cut dioramas that she then lights up and photographs. This gives the illustrations a unique sense of depth as you turn the pages of her book.
The story, so elegantly and gently placed before the reader, is simple and straightforward. The adults in this book are not open to helping the fox, yet the small boy opens his heart and gives what he can to the fox. His thoughtfulness does not go unnoticed; the fox thanks him simply with a magical bouquet. The big lesson: kindness begets kindness.
The world needs more of this lesson. The world needs more of books like these. This is truly one of the most beautiful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.