People was originally published in French, the work of French artist Blexbolex. It was translated by Claudia Bedrick, and published this summer in the US by Enchanted Lion Books. It's a bit of a difficult book to classify. It reads like a picture book, with a picture of a type of person on every page, each captioned by a one to two word description. However, it's 208 pages long. Much of the book is nonfiction, as the pictures illustrate people of different occupations. However, some of the people featured are mythological (like vampires), landing the book squarely in fictional territory. And hence People is a nominee for the Cybils in fiction picture books.
The age range is also a bit tricky to classify with this book. One the one hand, it's a perfect book for preschoolers, filled with pictures like "chef", "puppet", and "balloon pilot". On the other hand, some of the concepts conveyed are a bit mature for most preschoolers, including as "corpse" and "nudist". I've listed it about as being suitable for 7-10 year olds, but really, I think that parents should look through this one and decide based on their child's maturity level (as is true with all books, but especially with this one).
It is a neat book, though, however you classify it. Blexbolex's illustrations are art, each capturing the essence of some type of person. They are rendered in muted tones, many featuring silhouettes, encompassing everything from "girl" to "cave explorer." The pairings on each facing page after carefully selected, and often amusing, like "conductor" and "tyrant", both shown holding pointers, and "blind" and "distracted" (with the distracted person about to walk into something). There's even "woodcutter" and "executioner". OK, the more I list these examples, the more I think that this is more a coffee table book for adults than a picture book for young children. And yet... I think kids will find it interesting, filled as it is with firemen and emperors, mermaids and window shoppers.
I'm not sure quite where People is going to land in people's homes (though my library has it in Fiction Picture Books). But it's well worth a look. The more time you spend with People, the more food for thought you'll find, and the more you'll appreciate the artwork of Blexbolex. Recommended for library purchase, homeschool reference, and for anyone else intrigued by the presentation of "secretary", "yeti", and "oddball" in the same book.
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Publication Date: August 23, 2011 (US edition)
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Colleen Mondor
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).