Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday


Monday by Anne Herbauts. Copy supplied by publisher, Enchanted Lion Books. Originally published in Belgium as "Lundi".

The Plot: This rather defies a simple plot description. Surreal is the best way to describe it: Monday is the figure you see on the bookjacket; the book begins with a description of his week, interactions with his friends, and as the seasons change so does Monday.



"Monday is his name.

"Monday awaits Tuesday.
On Tuesday, he thinks about Wednesday.
on Wednesday, he feels so small,
So very small,that by Thursday
he no longer knows if
tomorrow will really be Friday.
On Saturday, he is astonished.
Sunday passes in silence."


Next, his friends Lester Day (a big coffee pot) and Tom Morrow (a cat like creature with wings) visit. The seasons come and go, again vaguely personified. Spring, a cloud, a sky creature, speaks in italics: "I am spring. I am green, I abound."

The word play continues throughout the book, as

"Lester Day plays backwards,
Tom Morrow plays wonderfully well
and Monday is just delighted."

Monday disappears during a snowstorm; his friends look for him; and when he reappears, his is still Monday, but his appearance has changed slightly.

The Good: This is not your typical children's book. The design is original and goes beyond just the illustrations: the weight of the paper changes as the story progresses, getting thinner and finer as Monday disappears, ending with a new Monday and weight and feel the same as the first page. Would I have realized this if the publisher hadn't put it in the cover letter? I don't know; but I love that type of detail, that may not be obvious but is there, being picked up even if you're not sure what exactly is going on.

Other physical things about the book: the cover is sturdy cardboard, with a cutout of Monday's house. Monday, with his chair and his cup of tea, are seen thru the cutout and are on the first page of the story. The cover also has bumps; snow; and when Monday is lost in a snowstorm, those bumps appear on those pages.

Details in the pictures: when Lester Day and Tom Morrow are in the snowstorm looking for Monday, they wear the scarves Monday was shown making earlier.

From the quotes, you can see it's not just the illustrations that are almost dreamlike; so, too, are the words, which are almost poetic.

Weird, surreal, delightful, different, original; about the passage of time, the change of seasons, how people change ("Monday comes, albeit a little different") or, perhaps, are reborn. Something is lost; something is gained.

This is a compelling, fascinating book.

Links:
The New York Times Bookshelf Review.
the recollected, recreated review.
Book Buds review.

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