Tuesday, January 5, 2016
PICTURE BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: The Only Child by Guojing
ABOUT THE BOOK
Like Shaun Tan's The Arrival and Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, this gorgeous and imaginative 100-page graphic picture book is utterly transporting and original.
A little girl—lost and alone—follows a mysterious stag deep into the woods, and, like Alice down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in a strange and wondrous world. But... home and family are very far away. How will she get back there?
In this magnificently illustrated—and wordless—masterpiece, debut artist Guojing brilliantly captures the rich and deeply-felt emotional life of a child, filled with loneliness and longing as well as love and joy.
I really and truly loved this book and I'm sad as can be that it isn't eligible to win the Caldecott (author/illustrator is from China). And I'm not sure what to call it either, picture book or graphic novel. The book is wordless which suggests a picture book, but it's over a hundred pages which suggests graphic novel. In either case, the author tells a surprisingly sweet story entirely through the pictures. As she explains in an author's note at the front of the book, the story is based on her own childhood growing up as an only child whose parents both worked. The little girl in this story is left home alone to entertain herself while her parents work. Eventually though she gets bored and decides to leave to go see her grandmother. Unfortunately, she fall asleep on the bus and misses her stop. In a panic she gets off the bus and finds herself alone in a forest, but not for long. Most of the second half of the book focuses on the child's adventures with the stag that she finds in the forest. And this is where the book becomes fantasy. I think my favorite parts of the book were the different perspectives on the girl as she plays at home, makes her way through the streets, the bus, and then the fantasy world. Guojing has created an absolutely beautiful book well worth perusing over and over again.