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Pomelo et les contraires

Illustration Benjamin Chaud


Une farandole de couples de mots contraires, vus à travers les yeux et l’humour délicat de notre Pomelo :
- les classiques : fermé/ouvert, loin/proche, haut/bas ;
- des surprenants : banal/exceptionnel, possible/impossible, rêve/réalité ;
- des subtils : éphémère/éternel, question/réponse, voir/regarder ;
- des farfelus : quelque chose/n’importe quoi, roudoudou/pas roudoudou, En veux-tu ?/en voilà !

Un imagier jubilatoire qui livre aux petits des clés étonnantes pour décoder le monde qui les entoure et avancer dans la vie.

2011 Ed. Albin Michel Jeunesse



Pomelo, a peculiar-looking pink elephant first sighted in “Pomelo Begins to Grow” (a Book Review Editors’ Choice and Notable Book in 2011), found more fans with “Pomelo Explores Color.” And he appears again in “Pomelo’s Opposites,” a book that is the opposite of predictable.
To be sure, you could find some of the oppositions in other books — few/many and open/closed are no surprise, though the illustrations that accompany them are uncommonly appealing. But the spread for black/white — a seemingly obvious pair — opens up a conversation: on one page, the elephant is black against a white ground, and on the next, it’s white against a black ground. So is “white” really accurate to describe the page with the white elephant? Pause for discussion.
This is not a book for reading aloud quickly, for flipping through as if the pages were flash cards. Why exactly is a flower, with a falling petal, “fleeting”? And why is the framed painting of that flower “permanent”? Both flowers are in a book — perhaps neither is so fleeting after all. If you start debating these questions with a 3-year-old, who knows where you’ll end up? What’s the toddler translation of “ars longa, vita brevis”?
One of the pleasures of this latest book by the Romanian-born Badescu and Chaud, a Parisian, is that although it is witty and occasionally profound, it doesn’t feel pitched at adults. There’s no elbow-nudging, though there is a flirtation between the bashful pachyderm and a long-lashed frog. Like the best stories, their relationship can be reduced to a few words: see/look at, comfortable/uncomfortable, easy/difficult, question/answer, yes/no.
Chaud’s visual cues convey emotion in humorous shorthand: slight variations in expression, and cheeks that flush from pale pink to peony. “Pomelo’s Opposites” is the kind of book that can be enjoyed, at its simplest level, for its charming drawings and warm colors, but there’s more to be found on repeated readings.


Published: July 17, 2013 / The New York Times

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