Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
The Wanderer (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written and Illustrated by Peter Van Den Ende Original title: Zwerveling (Dutch, 2019) Publisher: Levine Querido (2020) ISBN: 1646140176 (ISBN13: 9781646140176) Literary Awards: Zilveren Penseel (2020), Woutertje Pieterse Prijs Nominee (2020) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
It has been awhile since I was taken so strongly by a wordless picturebook – probably the last time was when I read Mel Tregonning’s Small Things (Amazon | Book Depository) which I found to be raw and visceral.
This book on the other hand, is more like a wanderer’s journey through a dreamscape: nightmarish on occasion, but utterly beautiful, too.
Belgian artist, Van Den Ende, takes the reader along with this flimsy, fragile paper boat to a wandering sea quest – a journey that ultimately leads to home. I anticipate that im/migrants who are taking on a similar path – through land, air, sea – would be able to resonate with this sense of being adrift in the face of the seemingly-infinite and the boundless.
The journey is not just breathtakingly exquisite, it also led to danger and encounters with the unknown and potentially threatening. This paper boat only had to rely on its folds and texture and capacity to float in order to survive.
Needless to say, the paper boat did not go through its journey unscathed. It is battered, bruised, and not without scars. Yet, it floats despite its fear, intent on surviving.
My teenage daughter is about to embark on her own ‘wandering’ as a university student. I suppose this is why I felt the beauty of this wordless picturebook even more keenly: it surfaces the strength of the fragile – as it goes about its surreal journey through unfamiliar seascapes – and its inevitable transformations.
I found this Youtube link of Peter Van Den Ende sharing his process and what inspired him to create this work. Enjoy!
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