cover image Seraphin


Philippe Fix, trans. from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Elsewhere, $18 (28p) ISBN 978-1-939810-25-0

French artist Fix chronicles the adventures of dreamer and tinkerer Seraphin and his young friend Plume. Rendered gracefully in a new translation by Nicholson-Smith, Fix’s winning narrative voice (“You felt relaxed there,” he writes about Seraphin’s barn, “and you had an urge to sing”) is matched in charm by his wonderfully intricate, warmly lit illustrations. Seraphin’s job as a ticket puncher in the Paris Metro doesn’t last long, but readers get a hint of his abilities when he crafts an elaborate machine powered by Plume’s hamster Hercules. Then Seraphin inherits a ruined mansion that he and Plume painstakingly renovate—a magnificent spread shows the result, a cross between a lighthouse, a vine-clad Metro station, and a construction crane. New joys follow: Seraphin creates a fantastical pushcart to peddle ice cream and chestnuts, the house’s carved and painted images come to life one magical night, and Seraphin invents a mechanical orchestra machine out of scrap. The idyll comes to an end as developers force Seraphin and Plume from their beloved mansion; happily, their mechanical prowess leads them in an entirely new direction: up. This vision of an existence unbeholden to anyone else offers a satisfying escape from the everyday. Ages 5–8. [em](July) [/em]