A wordless chase: in this 92-page visual narrative, a somewhat bemused cat pursues a domestic fish.
It all begins in a house. The compositions are rendered in black and gray except for the crimson fish—and later, strategically placed matching birds. The feline approaches the fishbowl and stirs the water, swirling it faster and faster. Its smile is impossible to decipher: threatening or playful? What appeared to be small fish fins now become wings; the swimmer ascends and soars through the window. The hunt begins over tiled rooftops, past diaphanous laundry, and into a leafy, stylized forest—where a red bird is given a scare until the pursuer realizes the mistake. Following the fish to the moon, the cat traverses stars like steppingstones—a captivating image. The penultimate setting is a tunnel through which the fish escapes, flying into the sea. Tentatively pawing the water, the hunter is left to stare into the sunset—and readers to interpret its feelings. Though Dubuc has created many books since, this 2007 title was her first. Originally entitled La mer and only now seeing publication in the United States, it won Quebec’s 2008 Prix Lux/Grafika award for illustration. Dubuc’s designs range from a whimsical wallpaper pattern that suggests paw prints to tiny lines on a gray background that create a pulsing force field around the stars.
An unhurried pace and graphically arresting scenes build suspense and wonderment in equal measure, providing space for reflection and tantalizing questions. (Picture book. 3-7)