It was the illustrator, Carl Angel, who asked me to review this book. So I will start with the illustrations. They are double-page spread paintings that are worthy of an art museum. Dynamic, expressive, and insightful, they pull you into the page.
The story takes place in Africa. The trees, that have taken the little girl in and raised her, remind me a little of the Ents in Tolkien’s book. These ones, however, are more exotic and spiritual. The monkey, parrot, villagers, elephant, and the lion are vivid and realistic.
The heroine, Silence, is a beautiful young woman whose task is to save the village that abandoned her. You can almost feel the texture of her hair.
When she braves the mountain, going against the village rules, we have no doubt that she will succeed in her quest. Her long strides up the mountain, scythe in hand, show us Silence’s determination and fearlessness. When she speaks to the trees, she has almost achieved the status of goddess in her pose and sense of command. But then, Carl Angel softens her appearance when she uncovers the markers of the forgotten ancestors. At first she is shocked, then again Silence is determined to change things, and finally joyous.
Every detail in the pages of illustration contribute to this story. The girl, loved and raised by the trees, wears a dress patterned in leaves and an armband made of twigs. The sky changes to reflect what is happening in the story. The text is a fable, almost legendary, and Carl Angel’s illustrations frame it perfectly.
A little on the story… The villagers have forgotten their ancestors. Because of this, frightening things have been happening. Once the grave markers are found and the ancestors are honored, both night and day become times of peace and harmony.
The story ends with Silence returning to the trees that loved and cared for her. Although the villagers want to thank her and ask for her forgiveness, she does not return. She already knows her place in the universe.
There is much to discuss about both text and illustrations. An unusual, exceptional book.
I was given a copy of this book for my Little Free Library in exchange for a book review.
The illustrator, Carl Angel, was interviewed on my blog February 22, 2017.