by Aoi Huber-Kono

The Big Fish

This book was first published in 1968 but was recently published again in English by Edizioni Corraini. It’s about a little island of fisherman who fish everyday but then a weird looking strange boat comes and starts stealing all the fish from the waters. Then a storm comes and swallows the boat and washes a huge fish to shore. The people are excited until they realize it’s a phantom fish and that it is empty. It’s a strange folksy story and I wonder if something got lost in the translation to help me understand what lesson we are supposed to learn from the whole event. The text is typeset as if it’s poetry. The sentences are broken and separated in such a way to mimic the waves of water (original text layout by Max Huber but the English version by Arata Maruyama). The illustrations are all really thin lines with limited flat color behind them. I love the style of the drawings- beautiful patterns and delicate repetition of line. I am surprised this is so old because the style seems so contemporary. It’s interesting to see a few pages only full of lines of waves in a children’s book. It seems too peaceful and calming somehow and not exciting enough for a child but I don’t have one to test it on. Maybe it’s the perfect nighttime before bed story- that is if you aren’t scared of ghost boats and empty fish. You can get a copy of this book here.

Speaking of great children’s books, I have an incredible artist’s sketchbook for Friday, um ehem, Calef Brown! I am so so excited!

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