Thursday, September 6

The Big Question

by Wolf Erlbruch
Europa Editions 2003
translated from the French
by Michael Reynolds

The unasked question* is answered in this picture book by a passel of parties in accordance to their nature. So I can spoil you, says the Grandmother. To obey orders, charges the Soldier. You're here simply to be here, states the Stone adding one of the concrete clues to the question at hand. Page after page, each gives their answer to the question in a format that seems to be popular in books from the Old World. In one small bit of humor a Duck flatly exclaims "I haven't the foggiest idea" which, when you think about, makes some sense for a duck. Cat believes the answer rests in licking and Rabbit believes it has to do with petting. Even Death, his skull perched atop a clown suit (adding further evidence to the mountain of proof that clowns represent evil, if not evil incarnate) has his say.

Each double spread includes a simple illustration, characters in block color with simple line drawings, that are perfectly suited to the book's approach: They look as simple as their answers but everything is more complicated than it appears. A perfect book to introduce the concept of a life purpose and to get little minds to thinking... or to settle in with and accept on the surface as a example of perspective. At the very end Erlbruch includes a sheet of reproduced register paper to record future questions and answers for young readers, an open invitation to start asking even bigger questions.

But what could be bigger than *Why are we here?

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