Thursday, December 29, 2011

2. The Conductor

By Laetitia Devernay
Chronicle, 2011
$18.95, ages 5-8, 72 pages
A maestro stands on the top of a tree and conducts the leaves into a melody of flying birds, in this wordless masterpiece by an award-winning French artist.

One day, a conductor dressed in black tails and striped pants walks through a beautiful wood where delicate leaves are balled up on lollipop-shaped trees.

Holding his baton at the ready, he searches for music he can shape, then glances skyward and decides to climb one of the many stilt-like trunks.

Reaching the top, the conductor stands perfectly still. His dark bangs swoop off to one side with a flourish and he lifts his baton from the side of his leg.

Stretching his arms outward, the conductor signals to the leaves of all of the trees that the music is about to begin.

Then he delicately cues one cluster of leaves to fly out of the canopy into a bird, leaving a cookie-cutter shape of the flying bird behind.

Gradually, the maestro picks up the tempo, and signals a few more leaves to soar into the sky. Soon a whole flock is angling skyward.

Next, the maestro signals a canopy of delicately-etched leaves to take flight. Each stem spreads its leaves like the wings of exotic birds.

Soon the sky is filled with graceful, fluttering birds and the tree tops are becoming bare pale-yellow circles.

The birds swirl up toward the heavens, unified in performance and tempo, as the maestro shapes their movement with his baton high over his head.

As he waves his baton, their flight shifts between big, swirling movements and single-file lines, until the sky looks like a crescendo of music.

Readers open a two-page spread that's woven from top to bottom with flying birds.

The last birds are then released from their canopy, and join with the others. Then their movement, just as quickly, decrescendos until all is quiet.

All of the trees are now bare. The conductor bows and climbs down, and the birds flutter back onto their trees and return to being leaves.

As the conductor reaches for the ground, he sits down, digs a small hole and plants a seed, from which another musical tree sprouts.

Devernay makes music come to life on the page in this lyrical, amazing book. One read through and readers will be going back to hear it again.

No comments:

Post a Comment