In this, the fastest-selling French picture book of 2011, we follow a boy in magic pyjamas through a bold, primary-colours Manhattan, complete with graph-paper skyscrapers and newspaper taxis.
The retro illustrations of Frédérique Bertrand are brought to life by animator Michael Leblond, who revives the pre-cinema technique of Ombro Cinema by adding a lined piece of acetate to create an entirely new genre of picture book, where illustrations meet with movement and your child can call ‘action’!
Even without the acetate, the book is a delight for the eyes, with abstract shapes in the bold primary colours of a New York City subway map. But with the acetate… well, that’s pure magic!
Sliding the piece of lined acetate over the illustrations creates the illusion of movement: the wheels of yellow cabs – exaggerated in size – spin around; the blinding lights of Times Square glimmer and sparkle; traffic rolls through a busy interchange; even the leaves of Central Park gently move in the breeze. Psychedelic patterns crawl about the pages, perfectly depicting the dense, crowded hustle and bustle of a modern metropolis. After his chaotic journey through the dream-like Manhattan, our pyjama-clad hero, made dizzy by the ‘skyscraper forest’, returns to the calm of his bed.
Author/illustrator Frédérique Bertrand and designer Michael Leblond have worked on two other picturebooks in this series, Lunaparc en pyjamarama and Moi en pyjamarama, which are yet to be translated into English.
Author Profile Frédérique Bertrand is an illustrator and author who is widely published in France. Her distinct style, which makes use of thick brushstrokes and collage, can be recognised from a series of children’s picturebooks and alphabet books. She has also done work for newspapers Le Monde and The Wall Street Journal as well as companies like American Airlines.
Graphic Designer Michael Leblond has a background in graphic design. Having graduated from the Ecole Supérieure d’art de Nancy, he set up his own studio, Ithaque, specialising in visual identity, materials for events and signage.
To see how the illustrations move, watch the video (above) by Frederic Ray.