The Two Doves: A Children’s Book Inspired by Pablo Picasso

Géraldine Elschner, trans. from the French by Agathe Joly, illus. by Zaü. Prestel, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-3-7913-7330-0

This story imagines the circumstances that led to Picasso’s famous line drawing of the dove of peace. An exhausted dove visits three islands in search of refuge. The first is piled high with garbage. The second holds circus paraphernalia but contains no people. The third is a war zone with bombed-out buildings; the corpse of a bull lies in a doorway. The latter two scenes contain visual quotes from paintings by Picasso—information revealed only in an illustrator’s note. The images, especially the war scene from Guernica, leave much unexplained, and readers unfamiliar with the work and its history may be left puzzled. Zaü’s expressive ink drawings convey desolation and beauty with equal intensity. The dove finds a companion, a wounded dove it nurses back to health. The two land in a peaceful country where children play near a familiar-looking bald man working at an easel. The children hold the wounded dove: “Nobody move! Hand me my brushes!” the painter cries. The heart of Elschner’s story lies in the dove’s search for respite; Picasso himself is a peripheral character. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)