I am glad to discover a new author-artist collaboration through our reading theme: the husband and wife tandem of Germano Zullo and Albertine. In this picturebook, one gets a sense of the potential catastrophic effects of over-reaching and being caught up in one’s own greed.
Written by: Germano Zullo Illustrated by: Albertine
Published by: Chronicle Books, 2012 ISBN: 1452113920 (ISBN13: 9781452113920)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Two billionaires live next to each other and have seemingly made it their life’s mission to outdo each other in making their stately mansion even more imposing than the other.
As it is, their homes are already quite elegant, but Agenor-Agobar Poirier des Chapelle (on the left) and Willigis Kittycly Junior (on the right) would have none of that. Determined to prove that they are better than the other, they keep on adding floors, wings, branches to their home:
Closer inspection reveals how the highest paid architect in the world and the master carpenter have been hired in each of the separate homes to ensure that the diamonds and rubies fit in snugly to the facade. There is even a movie theater in Junior’s home on the right.
Each page demonstrates how increasingly-absurd the two billionaires seem to be getting in their quest to outdo each other’s homes. There is the sheer impossibility of the architectural engineering and the exaggerated grandiosity that requires an ebony bathtub or a North American oak tree aged 4,275 years old planted on the topmost balcony reached via a spiral staircase (among other walkways).
To say that it is excessive would not be doing it justice. But what to do if you order a pizza and you are famished and the pizza girl chooses to drop the box of pizza on your doorstep because she can not make heads nor tails of the convoluted instructions to get to the sky-high top of your home. What then? Told with practically no narrative except witty descriptors here and there on the additional wardrobe, fixture, lighting added to each billionaire’s homes, it serves as a sobering reminder of the many things that seem to absorb our attention, and all the while we lose sight of that which is simple, grounded, and significant in life.
As I was reading this brilliantly-executed picturebook, I am reminded of the Tiny House Movement, and it puts a smile on my lips imagining just how these two billionaires would possibly react to these tiny homes. Enjoy the video clip!