Panorama de la Montagne 1938 Alexandra Exter (illustrator) Marie Colmont (author)
The “piece of resistance”–from the point of view of graphic art– in the Pere Castor series is the 1938 accordion book, that unfolds to 94″ (ht. 9 3/8″) to present, on one side, a lithographic “panorama of the mountain.”
We open upon a lonely mountain climber, in grey and brown tones to correspond with the cliff, behind whom unfolds clouds and a vulture and then a mighty range in reddish brown, black, white and blue. Next there is a plateau with a ski resort, a cable car and athletes in various stages of their metier. Further on, we find foothills and a shepherd (as lonely and grey as the climber) and plump sheep. As we look down from there, we find a tour bus approaching the heights, a hydro electric facility and industrial plants. Then there is a vignette showing a dairy farmer and his son with their herd. The hard-back cover shows a chalet and its environs, the front cover in summer, the back cover in winter.
The text (on the reverse side) wants its young readers to reflect that, “The world would be less beautiful if there were no mountains.” And then it goes on to describe in simple and stirring terms, the various activities specific to that terrain, their rewards, their dangers and their thrills. It discharges its simple teaching in charming terms like these–“The plants are formed for a life without gentleness. Their roots are pronounced in order to cling to the soil. Their vivid energies result in especially fragrant and colorful flowers. Bees love these flowers, and produce there the best honey.” Similarly the animals, in order to survive, have to be stronger and “more sober.”