Henri and the Machine


Henri wishes he could linger within the blue painting forever. It reminds him of ‘the ocean… blueberries and summer skies’. However, he’s not impressed with the portrait of the woman ‘whose eyes were in the wrong place‘, nor the thirty-seven prints of soup cans! Then again, when he enters the empty room, he discovers a chair with a multitude of questions. It’s only a chair, isn’t it? Then again, Clara suggests that art is not what it seems. What does that even mean? Henri’s had enough, so he sits on the chair….

‘BANG!’ Henri sets something into motion that ‘he cannot control’. There are turning wheels, inflating balloons, rainbow- coloured smoke and more. In fact, it’s such a chaotic event that everyone seems to come running, leaving Henri stranded in the middle of complete cacophony. What has he done?

Within a superb story of a school outing, full of investigation and description, Isabelle Marinov delights us with the wonder and possibilities of experience and art. The animated pictures, varied perspective and delightful shapes and lines all conribute to a really wonderful reading experience. Bookwagon loves and recommends Henri and the Machine.

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Henri and the Machine

Isabelle Marino and Olga Shtonda

(Templar Books)

Although Henri’s preference is a visit to the seaside, it seems his class is visiting an art gallery. Thereafter, Henri’s dismissive of the painting with the woman with eyes in ‘the wrong place’, and the painting of melting watches. However he loves the blue painting and wishes he could stay there. Then again, Henri’s  perturbed by the questions directed around the chair within the empty room. Of course it’s a chair! While Clara suggests that things are never what they seem, Henri’s drawn to sitting down upon the chair, when….
Henri and the Machine is from Isabelle Marinov who created Leo and the Octopus, a Bookwagon favourite picture book. It seems that when Henri’s seated upon the chair drums play and trumpets honk. Then again, plates fall to the floor and smash, while confetti rains down from trumpets. What is going on? In fact the cacophony is so huge that the noise and drama brings everyone running! What has Henri done?
Bookwagon loves the way the writer builds the momentum, from the first cross moments of discovery to the magnificent crescendo of movement… However, could it be that as we join Henri’s visit, we’re invited to realise more about art too? That it’s as we experienced with The Artist, for example? What a complex, philosophical and superb picture book. We love the story, the elongated pictures with their rhapsodic perspective and movement. Bookwagon recommends Henri and the Machine to all picture book readers and collectors.


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