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Pickle Me This

May 20, 2016

The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith

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So obviously we didn’t end up buying The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, and got The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith, which I can’t say is a hardship. And really, that this book is by Coralie Bickford-Smith (world-renowned book designer) tells you everything you need to know about The Fox and the Star: visually, the book is stunning. But does being a book designer necessarily mean that a person can write a book? In the case of Bickford-Smith, it does, in particular because design is so integral to what makes a good picture book work. I’m thinking of an author/illustrator like Virginia Lee-Burton who, like Bickford-Smith, knows the limits of the page and uses those limits and the liminal spaces. There is no single part of the book that doesn’t matter, that doesn’t have attention to it.

Can in point? Endpapers.

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The Fox and the Star is the story of a fox who is small beneath the trees and the sky, but takes comfort in the constancy of a star above him.

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The forest is not the the place for constancy though, and one night the fox looks above him and the star isn’t there anymore.

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Bickford-Smith shows the life and movement of the forests, above ground, on the ground and underneath it. Her scurrying insects are amazing, as our the rabbits created of white space, and the ferns, and the orange of the leaves as the seasons change, and how she integrates the text into her illustrations. And gradually we begin to understand what has happened to the star.

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And as the leaves fall, the fox looks up to find the star again, high up in a sky that’s full of them: “Fox could not believe there were so many stars. His heart was full of happiness.”

This book is exquisite.

One thought on “The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith”

  1. theresa says:

    Oh! This looks so beautiful. What’s great is the sophistication of the design, too — and everyone benefits from that: the parent reading to the child and loving the way the pages look, the way they unfold the story (or reveal it); the child encountering those eyes, those delicate ferns, the inhabited leaves…Lovely. Can’t wait to buy two copies for the young’uns in my life.

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