Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Magic Little Words

Publish June 16, 2015

In Magic Little Words–translated from the French title Les mots magiques (Editions de d’Isatis, 2013)Montreal-based author, Angèle Delaunois, and illustrator, Manon Gauthier, convey the meaning behind eleven common phrases whose messages are far from simple. Delaunois has written over sixty books for children across genres. In this concept book she expands upon a range of emotionally provocative short phrases. Readers will slow down and consider the meaning behind phrases they use without thinking; for example, “good morning” has the subtext, “I smile at a brand-new day.” Explanations are for the most part illustrative, focusing on intra- and interpersonal relationships. When combined with Gauthier’s gouache, pencil crayon, and collage work, the simple phrases take on even more gravity. “I love you/The most beautiful song for two” is coupled with a collage showing two birds touching beaks and two human figures embracing, while “Rest in peace/For eyes that have closed forever,” is paired with a deceased bird and a human mourner who offers a branch. Throughout, character expressions convey compassion, contentedness, and contemplation. This emotional intensity is balanced with a child-like whimsy as shapes and figures are at times coloured incompletely, scribbles go outside the lines, and collage elements are cut angularly rather than in a rounded fashion. And, scissor marks are visible in some places, as though cuts went a bit too far. Magic Little Words is thoughtful and satisfying. From “good morning” through “good night,” it illuminates the complexity of our simplest human exchanges.

Magic Little Words

Angèle Delaunois
Illustration EN: Manon Gauthier
Owlkids Books
ISBN 13: 978-1-77147-106-0

Jen Bailey
Jen Bailey Jen Bailey is an Ontario-certified teacher who holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Jen’s other book reviews have appeared in Quill & Quire and Canadian Children’s Book News.

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