Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ernest and Celestine - The Picnic by Gabrielle Vincent (Translated by Sam Alexander) (Catnip Books)

Oh my. Ernest and Celestine, how on earth have we completely missed you up till now?

Gabrielle Vincent was something of a legend in children's books across the English Channel. Born in 1928, her first book wasn't published until 1981, but the Ernest and Celestine series is probably her most well known and best loved body of work. Sadly, Gabrielle died in 2000 but interest in the books has continued. A fantastic animated movie of Ernest and Celestine's first adventure was made in 2012 (you can see the trailer for it at the end of this review), and now Catnip Books are republishing the Ernest and Celestine books, beginning with "The Picnic".

With translation by Sam Alexander, we meet Ernest - a big burly bear and Celestine, a delicate little mouse. Sharing their life together, Ernest and Celestine are always ready for adventure - no matter what the weather.

After a busy cookery session in the kitchen, Ernest and Celestine are all set to enjoy a fabulous picnic. But on the day they decide to go, it rains heavily. Poor Celestine is downhearted but thankfully Ernest isn't bothered about a drop of rain, and convinces Celestine that they can pretend the sun is shining, and still have their picnic outdoors.

Setting up a brilliant den, it's time for a feast!

Gabrielle Vincent's sublime artwork is the star here. The translation makes the story feel a little bit disjointed though I guess this means it's a fairly straight translation without any embellishment that would detract from the original work. Celestine's expressions are wonderful, and you almost feel like you could pick the picnic off the page and eat it, the panel illustrations are so beautiful.

We like big books (and we cannot lie) - It's lovely to pull a book like this out of the bookshelf, lounge on the floor and lose yourself in it. So that's exactly what we did. I hope this is just the first of Catnip's Ernest and Celestine reprints, and we really want to see the animated feature too.

Charlotte's best bit: Ernest and Celestine inviting the grumpy landowner to join them for a nice hot cuppa.

Daddy's favourite bit: Celestine's sulk. Reminds me of someone :)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Catnip Books)

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