Boubo is not so little anymore, in fact Boubo thinks he’s really rather big. And he can prove it. From the creator of such delights as Un Lion à Paris and La gigantesque petite chose, comes Little Big Boubo - a delightful tale all about growing up.
First things first, a confession: Beatrice Alemagna is a firm favourite of ours; one of those illustrators of today who can create books that not only speak to children but to adults too. Her unique style is certain to earn her a place in illustrative history and her surreally imaginative ways have no doubt inspired many an artist. She has certainly inspired us.
Little Big Boubo tells the tale of a young boy determined to impress upon us how grown-up he is. We see Boubo riding a bike, walking backwards and, of course, we see his four big teeth. Here is a book all about innocence and perspective. Through Boubo’s eyes he sees himself as big, through ours and his mothers we see just how little Boubo still is, and that’s what makes this story so adorably sweet.
No Alemagna book would be complete without beautiful artwork and Little Big Boubo is no exception. The small scale of the book lends itself perfectly to its theme and inside is packed with page after page of detail-rich collage. Alemagna’s off-beat perspective is constructed with cut-outs, textures and patterns, all created through a variety of mediums - her playful approach epitomising the playful naivety of Boubo himself. Scale has been used wonderfully to accentuate Boubo’s feeling of ‘bigness’ and this again gives added weight to Boubo’s sense of growth, whilst highlighting just how little he is when his mother appears. His mother’s largeness fills the pages and her parting words as she sends Boubo to sleep conclude the tale perfectly. Full of warmth, charm and laughs, Little Big Boubo is a book that makes for an ideal bedtime read.
For those yet to encounter the magic of Beatrice Alemagna, we urge you to seek her work out. We always sing the praises of European illustrators and Alemagna is a prime example of just how varied picture books can be. Thank goodness Tate have published her work in English so that a much wider audience can admire what we’ve been admiring for such a long time. Little Big Boubo is as much a book about good art as it is a book about growing up.