Hello readers! Today, I have the pleasure of being a Novel Publicity Blog Tour host for author Chantal Fournier’s and illustrator Nicolas Lajeunesse’s new children’s book, Silent Words. It will be my first Novel Publicity review of a children’s book, and I’m excited to share it with you.
Welcome to Novel Publicity‘s Review Only Tour for Silent Words by Chantal Fournier (Author) and Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator). Read the reviews and follow along as we introduce you to Zelda and her world of words.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Zelda loves to talk. She always asks a million questions and her head is full of words like apple, bunny, cartwheel and dwizzledoodle. But when a sudden storm turns Zelda’s world upside down, all her words go silent. Zelda must embark on a quest across mountains, forests and oceans to find her parents—and her voice.
This moving tale about loss and hope will tug at your heartstrings. Author Chantal Fournier’s poetic storytelling style and illustrator Nicolas Lajeunesse’s evocative artwork combine to create a poignant story in which a child discovers comfort in the power of words.
My review guidelines: As you know from my first Novel Publicity review, I HATE spoilers as a reader, so as a reviewer, I avoid them as best as possible. As a writer and an editor, I put a lot of value on the language itself used to tell a tale. A 10/10 review for me will be one with an amazing plot, characters I love, and enchanting writing. I can’t get lost in a book without falling under the spell of its words–and the spell will be ineffectual without a great plot to fall into.
With that said, please enjoy my review.
I’ve always been a fan of children’s books. I admire the way they can teach important lessons and themes through a seemingly simple story and just-as-impactful pictures. Sometimes, these lessons are just as important for adults to read (to be reminded of) as children (to be taught). When I heard about this sweet and poignant tale, I jumped at the chance to review it.
I would classify this as a children’s fantasy drama. It was whimsical in the telling with somber themes. I don’t think any child would be too young to enjoy the story, but I do think older children (say, 5 and up) would understand the themes better.
The world: The world was enchanting. The pictures were extraordinary–beautiful and expressive. They made the world a character, in and of itself. The pictures matched the words perfectly, so that I felt they really worked together. The fantasy was whimsical in a symbolic way, almost like a dream. However, I would have liked a little more world-building–even just one page more–before the conflict began. It was hard to know what was at stake for the characters without more set-up, and it was hard to know just how out-of-the-ordinary all the fantastical events were for the characters.
The characters: Zelda, the main character, was charming. Her inquisitive, loving, passionate nature made her lovable. Her impulsive tendency was believable and a lesson itself. I also liked Zelda’s grandmother, who represented more than a traditional grandmother in the story, with her wisdom and nurturing. I would have liked to see Zelda’s parents more fleshed-out, but there wasn’t much room in the story for that.
The plot: Very interesting. It was a fantastical adventure, almost metaphysical, yet imaginable with the description and pictures. I was impressed with the treatment of serious themes like loss, disability, and courage–it was done realistically and with respect, also good framing for children. The ending was heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time, with a nugget of a moral that kids could walk away with. However, I would’ve liked more of a wrap-up conclusion at the end. It kind of ended in a bit of a hanging way, leaving the reader feeling a little loss himself/herself–which may have been the very point. I wanted to see the main character grow more definitively. I had a lot of questions, but then when you really think about it, if you take away the fantasy, you have the answers already. I get the sense this is something children inherently understand, and we stupid adults over-analyze it. 😉
The language: The language was very good, and any writer or logophile (word-lover), young or old will enjoy the rhetoric. The tempering of lots of words, even made-up words, in the beginning, with less words, and even no words later on in the story, was very effective in portraying the story and character’s journey. I think this is generally a category many children’s books fall short in, but this book highlighted it, which was especially important, as it related to the plot.
Review: 8/10. Beautiful. This book will stay with me for a long time. I hope to see more from this author-illustrator team–they make an inspiring story-telling team.
CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Originally from a small-ish city not too far from Montreal, I now live in Toronto, Canada, after a long stint on the beautiful Canadian West Coast, where I taught French to university students.
Silent Words, the story of a girl floating on a peculiar cloud, is my debut book. It is the fruit of a long collaboration with my artistic husband, Nicolas.
Nicolas Lajeunesse (Illustrator)
As the son of a sculptor and the grandson of a painter, art has always been a part of my life. After studying filmmaking in Montreal and working with my father for a few years, I left my French-Canadian roots and headed for the West Coast, where I discovered digital arts.
I live in Toronto, Canada, with my wife and family.
I hope you enjoyed the review, readers–and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Try to stay warm–snow is blowing through much of the U.S.A. this weekend. Maybe, if you look close enough, you’ll see some of Zelda’s words blowing around, too. 😉