January 30, 2017


Written and illustrated by Marianne Ferrer
Monsieur Ed
16 pp.
Ages 4-8

Racines is an seemingly-inconspicuous accordion-style (leporello) picture book that shares both a powerful sentiment about our roots and a story of one girl's family influence. Don't let its small size mask the power of its story.

En racines s’incarne la sérendipité.
(translated: Roots embody destiny.)

Racines (translated to Roots) is a deeply-moving yet simple examination of a girl’s roots and her awareness of what they mean to her.  She recognizes the roles of the key people in her life–her grandmother, mother and grandfather–in shaping her with both the magical and the tragic.  But beyond the simple but profound words, Marianne Ferrer illustrates the intensity of emotion  in her starkly-coloured but complex artwork.  Playing on both the emotions and the words, Marianne Ferrer depicts the girl embedded in the landscape, her hair becoming branching roots that meld into the tassels of the rug from which her grandmother combs out tangles. This is her grandmother who climbed down from the mountains, from her own ancestral roots, to make her way into a new world in which she is transformed by the love of a dark-skinned and moustached man.

From Racines by Marianne Ferrer
It is then the girl's mother's story of life by the sea, of extraordinary stars and animals, and fears from which comfort is given and tragedies endured that become part of the girl’s story.  “Je suis toujours consciente de mes racines” (translated: I am always aware of my roots.)

From Racines by Marianne Ferrer
Marianne Ferrer's artwork is both complex and simple, embedding complicated messages of family and heritage in the soft textures of the characters' landscapes.  It is a shame that my own limitations in understanding French has kept me from promoting the profound artistry of illustrators such as  Marianne Ferrer but I hope that Racines is but the first of more French-language books that I might promote here on CanLit for LittleCanadians.

n.b. The interpretation of this French-language book is solely my own.  I take full responsibility for any errors in translation and interpretation of words and art, and apologize for any discrepancies from the author/illustrator’s intent.
Leporello format of Racines by Marianne Ferrer

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