Agnes de Lestrade
Agnès de Lestrade, born in 1964, is a storyteller of many facets. She composes children’s songs, works in the visual arts, runs creative writing workshops, creates parlour games and also works as a journalist for the newspaper »Créamania«.
Since her debut in the world of children’s literature with »La Petite fille qui ne voulait plus cracher« (2003; tr: The little girl who did not want to spit out any more) the author has published several titles every year. She not only wants to entice the reader to marvel and dream in her stories, but also boost their confidence in their own power of imagination. Thinking and acting creatively in a life-threatening situation and a generous portion of lovableness are what bring the little girl in »Le plus gentil loup du monde« (2005; eng.) »The gentlest wolf in the world«, 2008) to try and put the meat-eating wolf on a diet and turn him into a vegetarian in the process. Torn between opportunism and instinct, the wolf acts as if domesticated by daylight, only to go out hunting at night. His search in line with his true nature for a delicious »dessert« means danger for the little girl. The illustrations pick up on the impishly sarcastic narrative tone at text level and bring it out in multi-layered, witty details. The basic themes of good and evil as well as the subject of prejudices and the current obsession with dieting in our society are dressed up contemporarily in the guise of a fairytale. To be true to his own feelings is also what Paul desires in »La grande fabrique de mots« (2009; tr. »The Great Word Factory«, 2010). He would love to tell Marie what he feels for her. However, communication is not something natural in his homeland, where one has to buy words with money before being allowed to speak them. Like many others without money, Paul has to resort to looking through waste bins or going out with a butterfly net to catch some words in the air. When Oskar tells Marie in two long sentences how much he likes Marie, Paul also uses the opportunity to speak out the three single − unfortunately incoherent − words that he owns full of emotion. A small, at first glance apparently unimpressive little word is ultimately the start of their friendship. The typographic design techniques of illustration and text used here correspond with the central thematic aspects of the picture book as well as the characters’ emotions in an associative interplay. As such, this picture book has certainly managed to »speak about love, the value of words, the power of honest emotions, of butterflies that fly, without becoming kitschy – not an easy achievement«, wrote Silke Schnettler in »Die Zeit« newspaper.
Agnès de Lestrade received, among other awards, the Prix Papillotes in 2010 as well as the Prix littéraire de la Citoyenneté for »La grande fabrique de mots«. She lives in the countryside in the Département Gironde.
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