“…in third grade. My art teacher, Mr. B., failed me on an art project. I could not draw a perfectly symmetrical flower vase. “If you can’t draw a perfectly symmetrical flower vase,” Mr. B. said, “you’ll never learn to draw.” Discouraged, I gave up drawing for the next ten years.” This quotation, taken from the Groundwood Books website reminds me very much of the story of the Little Prince. Personally, I never would have guessed that anyone could have anything bad to say about Marie-Louise Gay’s artistic abilities since that is the part of her books that I like best! I would love to have pictures of the forest in Stella Fairy of the Forest to put on the wall close to my desk.
How do you become invisible? You think of invisible things, like wind or music. What do fairies look like? They’re tiny and beautiful and they fly very fast. Do butterflies eat butter? Yellow ones do. These are just some of the wisdoms that Stella imparts on her little brother Sam as they spend an afternoon in the fields and forest looking for fairies and building a fort out of ferns to protect them from the giant who is watering his rocks. Marie-Louise has perfectly captured the relationship between an older sister and younger brother in this and in her other Stella and Sam books. Stella loves to teach Sam about the world around them, Sam is always bursting with questions, and often with insights of his own (blue butterflies must eat pieces of sky).
I’m afraid I don’t know anything about illustration techniques but to me the illustrations look like they are done with ink, watercolours and maybe even some tissue paper. In any case, the beautiful illustrations are slightly ethereal and they lend a sort of dreamlike quality to the story. When I read this story I get the sensation of a really hot, breezy and sunny summer day spent outdoors exploring.
I would recommend this or any of Marie-Louise Gay’s other books to grownups and children alike.