The Conductor by Laëtitia Devernay

“The Conductor” is a striking and award-winning illustrated volume, originally published in French, that tells the story (without words) of a symphony conductor who ventures into the forest and conducts a musical movement of trees that magically become birds in flight. Eloquently written and beautifully illustrated, readers are drawn to its pages spread after spread. As this charming tale unfolds, the reader explores colour, perspective and motion throughout an amazing musical transformation; readers can almost hear the score swelling off the pages…This picture book is hard to classify, but ultimately its distinctive vertical trim size and enchanting story line will draw in art and music lovers alike.

When I saw that The Conductor was a book with a wordless narrative, my first thought was how wonderful it would be to leaf through its pages allowing my imagination to fill in any gaps. My second thought was how difficult it would be to actually review the book once I’d finished. The Conductor by Laëtitia Devernay is a simply beautiful book. It’s a 72 page hardback book of sweepingly majestic illustrations that tell a story of a conductor that brings a small forest to life.

After climbing the tallest tree the conductor begins. Each swing of his baton brings the leaves of the trees that surround him, to life. The arcs of his wrist create a myriad of birds of all shapes and sizes that swirl and dance over the pages. Devernay uses both pattern repetition and sparseness equally to create picturesque pages that are turned quickly but savoured intensely.

After “reading” it once, I instantly went back to the beginning to start again. Devernay actually tells a very compelling and saccharine story, but the wonderful thing about it is that each reader will likely take something different away from it. Of course our minds paint very different things upon a blank canvas, so the book will also become a small conversation piece, making it a great coffee table book.

The Conductor is a thing of beauty, although it will take some investment on the readers behalf as £11.99 may be a little steep for some. Regardless, Laëtitia Devernay has composed a book that will captivate any who read it, both old and young.

Available now from Chronicle Books. Hardback – 72 pages, Fiction – Graphic Novel, Kindly sent by the publisher.

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