I’ve got a picture book translated from the original French for you today. My Valley by celebrated French children’s author Claude Ponti is due to be published in English, translated by Alyson Waters, in March 2017. We received a copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
In My Valley, Claude Ponti leads us on a journey through an enchanted world inhabited by “Touims” (tiny, adorable, monkey-like creatures), secret tree dwellings, flying buildings, and sad giants. Clever language and beautifully detailed maps of imaginary landscapes will delight children and adults alike. Ponti himself has said, “My stories are like fairytales, always situated in the marvelous, speaking to the interior life and emotions of children. That way each child can get what they want out of the images: the characters and dreams are their own.”
Long-time readers of this blog will know that my relationship with French books translated into English is sketchy at best. I’ve come across a few books in this category that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but for some reason, many others I haven’t. Unfortunately, this was one of the latter. It’s not a bad book by any means, just one in which I could not find a point of purchase from which to engage with the story.
The book is aimed at around about the 6 to 10 age group, with large pictures surrounded by short paragraphs of text. There is no coherent overall story, per se, but rather a collection of related passages that take place within a magical, ethereal, woodlandish world. The Valley is populated by Twims, little furry creatures that pass the time in various unlikely and whimsical ways, as well as giants and other fantastical creatures. As there was no linear storyline in the book, I found it hard to stay interested in what was going on because it was episodic in nature, with new characters being introduced only to disappear when others arrive.
The illustrations didn’t do a lot for me, but they were undoubtedly the highlight of the book regardless. The images take centre stage, covering page spreads or appearing beside blocks of text to give a bit of life to the story.
I’d have to say that this book just wasn’t my cup of tea – but that’s not to say it won’t be a hit with a mini-fleshling of your acquaintance, provided they have a good imagination and find joy in whimsical and original fantasy worlds.
Until next time,