Picturebooks are unique in the way they explain BIG concepts to little people. Simple and clear, yes. But the detail and nuance they pass on! The way they tease out even more questions, considerations…how they encourage young children to think on their own, it’s astounding. Here’s a new one that I think we should all read, especially in the times we’re living in.
author: Alexis Deacon
illustrator: Viviane Schwarz
Walker Books (5 August 2021)
Ergo wakes up and decides to explore her world. First she finds her toes. Then her wings and her beak and her legs. Ergo had found everything. She flapped, kicked, pecked. Could it be that Ergo WAS the whole world?! She was happy with this thought. And then…Ergo found the wall. When she pushed against the wall, her whole world rolled round and upside down. And then, something went bump. Maybe Ergo was NOT the whole world. Maybe there was something else. Ergo had to find out….
Somewhat of a companion tale to the previous I Am Henry Finch, this is the story of Ergo, a new chick contemplating her own world which, as far as she knows, exists only in the walls of her egg. But, as we all know, that is not everything there is. Tracking her exploration from the discovery of her toes through the consideration of what else there may be, we watch her thoughts, her reasoning develop. (It’s very reminiscent of watching babies emerge into the world around them.) The tale is filled with wondering and wonder. As Ergo has one new thought after another, these thoughts are accompanied by emotions….unbridled joy and pride at the thought that she may be the whole world, trepidation as she discovers there might be more, curiosity and frustration as she discovers that “Not knowing is not good” and great determination and courage as she ventures into the unknown world outside.
All of this is accomplished with economy of language and stunning illustration working hand-in-hand across the pages. Together, Deacon and Schwarz have created something really special. Rendered in a bright, limited palette of complementary yellows and blues, the action and expressions are easily read and lend great animation to the many thoughts and feelings the reader is sure to experience, whether they are only new to the world, like Ergo or have been knocking around the planet for quite some time. The flowing, clear line work and bold, vibrant watercolour illustrations guide us fluidly through Ergos’ journey until the end, where the world opens up, in all its’ colour and wonder. The ultimate effect is joyous and glorious.
A very sweet story, happy, gentle and adventurous, this is one to lead us all to consider the entire world…and our place in it. Tender, funny, full of thought, it acts as a guide into life and shows the value of connection. ERGO is wonderful!
Many thanks to Walker Books, and especially Ellen, for sharing this beauty with me (for purposes of review.) I treasure it and can’t wait to spread the ERGO love with a lot of young, budding philosophers. https://www.walker.co.uk/Ergo-9781406394030.aspx