Here's a lovely thing. The Slovenian Presidency of the EU has made available a book from each of the 27 EU member states for us all to read. Nine of them are picture books, and there's a graphic novel; seven are represented by short stories, four are rather bravely represented by poetry, three have novels and the last three are represented by essays.
I had a sleepless night the other night and fairly quickly worked through the nine picture books. I think all of them require a decent-sized screen to really appreciate; but I also think all of them could be bought for the small person of your choice. As is my usual habit, I'm listing them here in my reverse order of preference, with my favourite kept till last.
Portugal: Trocoscópio, by Bernardo P. Carvalho. Third page:
Comes with a helpful video in English and Slovenian explaining how to read the book. (I love the sound of spoken Slovenian, more than any other Slavic language.)
Spain: La Ciudad (The City), by Roser Capdevila. Third page:
Only five pages, each a vignette of life in a city not very different from Barcelona. Lots of detail in each one. Not a lot of non-white people though. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from Amazon here. An English translation (of a book with hardly any words!) may also exist.
France: Sortie de nuit (A Night Journey), by Laurie Agusti. Third page:
Imago smells something different. In the crowd, with no nectar, he is still hungry.
Imago the butterfly flies on a somewhat creepy journey through the city at night. I have to say that knowing how fragile butterflies are, I found this really creepy, especially when we meet the dark butterflies towards the end. Perhaps I am overthinking, but this one did not help me sleep. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from Amazon in French here.
Netherlands: In de tuin (In the garden), by Noëlle Smit. Third page:
March Spring is coming. Look, the first crocuses!
A straightforward set of pictures of a market garden through the twelve months of the year, which would appeal a lot to people who are more interested in gardening than I am, and to their children. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from Amazon in Dutch here or in English translation here.
Hungary: Otthon, by Kinga Rofusz. Third page:
A book with only one word ("eladó", meaning "for sale") and lots of pictures explaining a child's feelings as his family moves from the only home he has ever known to a new house. Rather sweet but very short. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from the publisher here.
Denmark: Hr. Alting (Mr Everything), by Bente Olesen Nyström. Third page:
Wow. This is pretty psychedelic. There is in fact a table of contents in Danish, supplying captions for each page, but they are very far from meshing with the content of the pictures (eg the one for page 3 is "the hidden treasure of the hurricane"). Mr Everything's world is a rich and fantastic one, and perhaps it's better if the instructions are in a language you don't understand. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from the publisher here.
Finland: Meidän piti lähteä (We Had to Leave), by Sanna Pelliccioni. Third page:
Worldless story of a family who have to flee their home because of war, and end up makign a new home somewhere else. Rather moving. Sometimes you don't need words. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from the publisher here.
Austria: Fridolin Franse frisiert (Fridolin’s Hair Salon), by Michael Roher. Third page:
A customer comes into Fridolin's hair salon with very long hair, in which a vast number of stories are concealed. Maybe I'm easily pleased but this was sheer delight. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from Amazon in German here.
Belgium: Mijn straat: een wereld van verschil (My Street: a world of difference), by Ann De Bode. Third page:
At Jona's (Jona is from Israel)
I don't think it's just patriotic fervour on my part; the Belgian entry is really good, a series of vignettes of life on an urban street (probably Antwerp) where everyone has character without veering into thoughtless stereotypes, with everyone looking forward to the street party at the end. (And then I had to go back and look for the hidden gnome in each picture.) Loved it and will look out for other work by this artist. You can get it on the European Readr site here, or a hard copy from the publisher in Dutch here.
This leafing through nine of the 27 books was prompted by insomnia, but I think I'll try and work through the other eighteen now, and hopefully while I am awake.