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A weird illustrated book.
“We used to be part of the family of those who are not like everyone else, and who do not attach any importance to it.
We used to be the artists of our own existences. We were doomed to astonish ordinary people, to amaze them and to make them quiver.
Not to be like them.”
The Siamese twins, the bearded woman, the colossus, the Lilliputian lady, the musician without arms and legs… The eleven weird and beautiful portraits depicting circus performers and freaks are eleven invitations to imagine for them extraordinary lives and breathless shows. The illustrator has put her characters into the hands of Marie Desplechin, who has given them a name and invented for them a destiny that was doomed to be weird: “Emmanuelle imagined and drew eleven fabulous characters. She gave them to me. They arrived in dribs and drabs, first the Siamese twins, then came the man without arms and legs, then the colossus, the fortune-teller, the Lilliputian lady… One after the other, I gave them a name and a story, then a family that kept on growing as I wrote. It was easy and funny: the portraits fitted the different characters perfectly! In this way we created our itinerant circus, a deeply human family, rich in imagination, courage and ingenuity. And love, of course.” Marie Desplechin
Telling the stories of these incredible lives one after the other, Emmanuelle and Marie intertwine the relationships that link these artists and tell us about their circus with affectionate humour and poetry. On a subject quite often full of stereotypes, Emmanuelle finds new paths and draws us in the middle of a crowd of fabulous characters. These characters appear strangely familiar yet definitely enigmatic at the same time, well detectable yet covered by a clear veil that keeps them apart; gazes, poses, elements that compose or surround them make them appear distant and mysterious, magnetic and astonishing.
Here we find ourselves once again immersed in Emmanuelle Houdart’s hybrid universe – coral or plant, male or female, feather or hair? – and her recurring themes – eggs, sponges, books. And as soon as the images could become disturbing or cruel, Marie Desplechin’s words intervene to reassure the reader. Diversity becomes a source of fascination and seduction. And, as if we were at the circus ourselves, we get amazed, we quiver, we laugh with those men and women who are not like everyone else but are, indeed, our fellows, our brothers.
“A lot of wonderful and terrible things happened in my life, as well as in everybody else’s. And this is what I draw, the wonderful and the terrible.”
Painter and illustrator Emmanuelle Houdart was born in Switzerland in 1967. After graduating from the École des Beaux-Arts in Sion and the École Supèrieure d’Arts Visuel in Geneva, she moved to Paris. Besides contributing to many newspapers and magazines (Libération, Le Monde, Sciences et Vie Junior, Ça m’intéresse… ), she published a dozen books as a writer and illustrator, and she illustrated about twenty children’s books. Her style is highly personal and characterized by the use of rich and sharp colours, outlining a fantastic though extremely real and tangible world.
In 2003 she won the Prix Octogone, category Prix Graphique (CIELJ), for Les Choses que je sais. Two years later she received an award for Monstres malades at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and in 2006 she won the Grand Prix du Livre Jeunesse of the Society of Men of Letters of France for Les Voyages merveilleux de Lilou la fée.
Her books for #logosedizioni are: Va tutto bene Merlino!, Amiche per la vita, Il denaro, Saltimbanchi, Il guardaroba, Genitori felici, Una lunga storia d’amore, Rifugi, Emilia Mirabilia, Mia madre and Mostri malati.
Marie Desplechin was born in Roubaix in 1959. She studied humanities and journalism. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Trop sensibles, and two novels, Sans Moi and Dragons, published by Editions de l’Olivier. She has also written some novels for children that skilfully mix humour and tenderness. She collaborates with several newspapers on a regular basis. In 1998 she was awarded the Tam-Tam prize for her novel Verte.