The Conductor

La%C3%ABtitia Devernay. Chronicle, $18.95 (72p) ISBN 978-1-4521-0491-1
French artist Devernay's slender, elegant book contains wordless spreads that represent successive moments in the performance of an unconventional orchestral score. A conductor in evening dress ventures into a grove of ball-topped trees and climbs to the top of one. As he raises his baton, avian shapes arise from the trees, first one by one, then multiplying until they fill the pages. Though they fly like birds, they are composed of the veined leaves of the trees—visual puns both for the feathers of the birds and the notes of an orchestral score. Like musical notes, the birds swell, multiply, soar, dance, and swoop across the page, with an almost mathematical precision reminiscent of an Escher print. As the last few fly off, the conductor stands alone among the now bare trees, before bowing to an invisible audience and climbing down. In a charming coda, he plants his baton, which begins to sprout. Simultaneously polished and playful, it will be of as much interest to adults as it is to children—and may hold particular charm for musicians. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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