The Whale Library by Zidrou
Verdict: This was very weird and very sad and very beautiful which makes it feel very French (thought the authors are Belgian).
A poetic fable for grown-ups full of wisdom and beauty, by two Belgian masters of graphic storytelling.
Out on the high seas lives a whale unlike any other, who spends her days reading stories to all who will listen, taken from the vast library hidden in her belly. When the whale bumps into a sea postman’s boat one fateful night, it’s the beginning of an extraordinary friendship. But not every story can have a happy ending…
A great example of why a “picture book” does not equate a children’s book as some people still think. Be aware that this book is graphic. There are entrails and beheadings and genitals (not all in one scene though, thank god). It suited the message focusing on the beauty of life and how death can be so senseless sometimes. Ultimately, I’d say this was a sad book. The end brought a little light back to the story, but it was a rueful hope, filled with knowledge of cruelty and injustice.
I’d be remiss not to mention the art itself. It carried so much beyond the words. The scenes of rowing across the water, humming a little tune, passing few others… the solitude settled on me as it did for the character. The bursts of color and humor inside the library / whale captured me, and I gazed at that tableau for a while. I found all the little delights of details and creatively imagined creatures that I could, and then I looked a little longer.
A bittersweet punch to the heart: that would be my tagline for this brief little story.
Thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for a free copy. This is my honest review.