When I, in the 1990’s first encountered the Pere Castor stories (primarily from the 1930s), it was the illustrative and lithographic strengths which enchanted me. Then, on getting down to the French texts, I was delighted anew by the deft and delicate portrayal of wild animals embodying loving gratitude, brave sacrifice and endurance.
In recent years I’ve become aware (thanks to my good friend and fascinating connoisseur of the arts, Sam Juliano) of the many beautiful children’s illustrated books in the running for the prestigious Caldecott Medal, presented in January each year. To my great surprise I find that many of the writers and illustrators often approach their wide-ranging subjects with a passionate care for the possibilities of grace and the rich fleetingness of life.
There are of course differences of nuance between the widespread eras; but it is to me a matter of good cheer that those long ago French instances of panache and daring have been maintained in our times of conspicuous attention to technology and conspicuous carelessness about serious reflection