We have some very interesting children’s books illustrators in Belgium. Today I want to show you the work of a young but prolific author with a name unpronounceable in English. (Pieter is easy enough, sounds just like Peter, but that “G” at the beginning of his surname, you just don’t have that sound in the English language, as far as I know… And since I don’t know how to write that weird phonetic-writing-stuff… Tell you what: try this… “COW-the-SUB-BOWS”. Mmmmm….not quite. But close enough.)
Mr. Cowthesubbows not only illustrates, he often writes his own books and even designs them himself. When you see his books you understand why that is necessary, since not only his illustrations (or photography) but also the typography and overall design are an integral part of the storytelling. His debut book “Roodlapje” (2003) is a good example of this. It immediately won him the Boekenpluim-award.
(The title '”Roodlapje” comes from “Roodkapje” which is what we call Little Red Riding Hood. It could be translated as “Little Red Riding Cloth”, but that would make no sense, so never mind…)
“Roodlapje” is a tough read. It does not really tell the story of little red riding hood, at least not in a conventional way. Gaudesaboos’s next book “Negen schijfjes banaan op zoek naar een plekje om te slapen” (Nine parts of banana looking for a place to sleep) is much simpler, based on the traditional countdown structure where each time one banana part stays behind…
After two more books which rely heavily on photography (“Hoe oma plots verdween” (How grandma all of a sudden disappeared) and “123 Piano” (See? You’re getting the hang of it…Dutch isn’t all that hard…), Pieter Gaudesaboos begins to use a more illustrative style. The first result of this is a big book called “De stad” (The city), published in 2006 and awarded with a Boekenpluim.
And eventually, these two approaches merge together in the lovely retro-tinged “Briek” (2008) where Gaudesaboos teams up with journalist Annick Lesage and musician Lieven Gouwy.
Tomorrow I have even more work from Pieter Gaudesaboos for you, such as the result of a strange collaboration between a writer and two illustrators who seem to be miles apart…