Welcome to Novel Publicity's Review Only Tour for Silent Words by Chantal Fournier (Author) and Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator). Read the reviews and win some great prizes for following along as we introduce you to Zelda and her world of words.
Silent Words, a picture book by author Chantal Fournier and her illustrator husband Nicolas Lajeunesse, is a charming tale. Zelda loves words and she expresses her fondness for them through speech. Questions, lengthy commentary, and passionate retellings, Zelda is not shy when she speaks. Words embolden her. Out with her parents for a day of fun, an unexpected tragedy occurs. The little girl who so freely expresses herself through speech finds herself at a sudden loss for words. Zelda's "tiny word factory" abruptly shuts down. What can she do?
Talking to a child about loss is no easy feat. Each child has different reactions and different coping mechanisms. Silent Words may help caregivers with the grieving process. Please don't think this is a somber book. Far from it. Silent Words is a story of love, hope, and change. And it is visually gorgeous! Earth tones depict life in the city (refreshing and different from the usual somber grays) with silhouettes of tall buildings and hilly parks. Words themselves are used as art swirling and curling above the character's heads. Zelda herself is adorable with her huge eyes conveying what is inside her. Playful images like hot air balloons and a day at the park feeding squirrels and being pushed on the swing by a parent will invoke memories in parents reading the book and elicit smiles from its young audience. The style of art is modern, giving Zelda's city life a bold and fetching look without overshadowing the child or her parents at any time.
I loved the use of split panes on pages to show transitions of time. I particularly loved the page with the split use of a tree to show Zelda's activities and also the flashlight page with its inversion of color. The images are sigh inducing. I also loved the word clouds Zelda travels on and her thought processes as she devises a way to help out. The variation of Zelda's size on pages helps convey what is happening to our young character as she searches for her parents. A rainbow of emotions are captured on the pages in highly creative illustrations sure to be stared at over and over again.
Chantal Fournier's words inform us on everything Zelda, even when she can't speak. For a book dealing with loss, Silent Words convincingly portrays what a child accustomed to using her words endures when that skill is suddenly lost. After her grandmother takes her in, the reader feels what Zelda is experiencing--not only from the lovely pictures but through her narration and the frustration on her face. A child coping with loss would benefit from being introduced to Zelda. A realistic ending still surprised me but left me, like Zelda, hopeful.
Quirky with colorful broad brushstrokes of whimsy, Silent Words is an impressive debut from Chantal Fournier (Author) and Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator)--a creative team I have immediately become fans of. Visually striking and emotionally depicted, Zelda and her words are sure to float into any child's heart while touching the hearts of older readers.
(Due to its subject matter and lengthy word usage, I would recommend this picture book to older mature readers at least 7+.)
I like the split image and how the letters share equal prominence with the character.
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review during a book tour.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Zelda loves to talk. She always asks a million questions and her head is full of words like apple, bunny, cartwheel and dwizzledoodle. But when a sudden storm turns Zelda’s world upside down, all her words go silent. Zelda must embark on a quest across mountains, forests and oceans to find her parents—and her voice. This moving tale about loss and hope will tug at your heartstrings. Author Chantal Fournier’s poetic storytelling style and illustrator Nicolas Lajeunesse’s evocative artwork combine to create a poignant story in which a child discovers comfort in the power of words.
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Chantal Fournier (Author) Originally from a small-ish city not too far from Montreal, I now live in Toronto, Canada, after a long stint on the beautiful Canadian West Coast, where I taught French to university students. Silent Words, the story of a girl floating on a peculiar cloud, is my debut book. It is the fruit of a long collaboration with my artistic husband, Nicolas.
Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator) As the son of a sculptor and the grandson of a painter, art has always been a part of my life. After studying filmmaking in Montreal and working with my father for a few years, I left my French-Canadian roots and headed for the West Coast, where I discovered digital arts. I live in Toronto, Canada, with my wife and family.