One of the really wonderful things about having Bimonthly themes here at
GatheringBooks is our discovery of authors that we would have not known otherwise. For our Bimonthly theme this March-April on Wordless Picture Books “When Words are not Enough” – I feel really fortunate to know the classic wordless books of Fernando Krahn, a Chilean born artist known for his being a cartoonist. The first book of Krahn that I knew about was “The Self-Made Snowman” which I reviewed here. When I found out we had more of his books over at our Library, I borrowed all five (I still have two more books pending since I’ve magically maxed out on the 40 books allowable for faculty/staff – I wonder why).
An Inflatable Puppy Romance. Admittedly, I was just so taken with this 7 x 5 red cloth-covered book, I think I must have read it more than five times now. In the usual tradition of Krahn, the entire book is illustrated with soft pencil sketches brimming with so much attention to tiny detail, you can just stare at one page and make a multitude of inferences as to what is going on. If there is one word that I can use to describe his pencil art work, it would be Alive. There is movement in each page, it is almost like a black-and-white classic TV show on reruns.
The gift-giving takes a teary-turn when the little girl got bowled over by her nicely-wrapped present which truth be told seemed much bigger (and possibly heavier) than her – while our little Romeo clambers up the stairs and hides under the rug, perhaps a wee bit scared that he has made our little Juliet cry. The artwork takes on a comical twist as the mommy goes inside the carpet to fish out our little boy who just wanted to flee the scene entirely. A beautiful resolution and reconciliation takes place though in the book page below:
Red is Love. As soon as the present is opened, the reader sees the first sign of color in the entire wordless narrative – there is this huge red thing that needs to be inflated. I like how Fernando Krahn played with colors to emphasize this unspoken, raw, and genuine emotion through color. While everyone remains solidly in black, white and gray, the red inflatable heart is indeed striking. When the kids realize that they can not possibly do this on their own, they approach their moms who are talking about extremely urgent and life-altering issues over what I believe to be a cool glass of lemonade on ice (can you hear the clink in the glass wherever you may be?)
As both Mommies give an ineffective try – you and your child (or students) would end up in stitches seeing how difficult a seemingly-simple task could be. The little girl’s momma even ended up collapsing in her chaise lounge, panting and short of breath – while her lovely daughter dutifully threw a pitcher of cold lemonade on her head to “help” her come-to. Thanks to Fernando Krahn, I now know boundless wit that requires no words – Krahn is one of those who can effectively manage this kind of wordless humor bordering on the classic.
Back to our Little Romeo. He realizes that the two adult women are of no use to him, so he seeks the help of an adult male (possibly the girl’s father) who happens to be in the process of pumping air in their car tires.
Unfortunately, this drew the attention of our excited little girl for whom this inflatable heart is for (it beats giving flowers, chocolates, or teddy bear, doesn’t it?). Note that our little girl is up on their terrace and both mothers are panic-stricken as our baby girl clambers down the railing to finally get ahold of her Valentine present.
How the story ends and how this red inflatable thing looks like once finally blown up in its proper size and dimensions (needless to say, it is ginormous), I shall leave up to you to discover. One thing though: you shall never look at Valentine flowers or chocolates the same way again. This little boy is a true inspiration.
PictureBook Challenge Update: 38 of 72
Little Love Story by Fernando Krahn. J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and New York, 1976. Book borrowed from the NIE Library.