Martin Pebble

Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Martin Pebble (Phaidon, 2006; first published in French, 1969)

by Jean-Jacques Sempé

I love this book.

I love the type on the cover.

I love the yellow.

I love the shape and the size and the story.

I love Martin Pebble.

He’s loveable.

(I picked this up on a recent trip to Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA, which is exactly why shopping in stores is the greatest thing. I had to touch this thing to believe it, and I might not have seen this thing if it weren’t for the bookseller. Bookstores are like story petting zoos and museums that don’t give you the stinkeye if you get too close to the art.)

(Something like that.)

But poor Martin Pebble.

Martin Pebble could have been a happy little boy, like many other children. But, sad to say . . . he had something that was rather unusual the matter with him:

he kept blushing. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Martin Pebble blushes for all the usual reasons and for no reason at all. The brilliance of Sempé’s color here is hard to miss. Black and white line work contains the red of Martin’s face, and that red occasionally extends to the text as well.

Subtle. Striking. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé The contrast Sempé crafts between Martin’s red face and all that black and white makes that blushing even worse.

Martin is in a pickle. He’s tiny and nearly lost on the page save for his giveaway condition.

He dreamed of fitting in. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé But he always stood out. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Then comes a series of sneezes, some very loud A T I S H O O s, and there he is.

Roddy Rackett, the new neighbor. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé When the story changes, and the hardships knock at the door, Sempé doesn’t just use the suspense of a page turn. He stops the story cold. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Roddy Rackett’s family moves away.

When you are a boy, and when you are made normal in the quirks of another, you never really forget about it. You think about A T I S H O O s while you are doing grownup things like riding taxis and elevators. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé Sometimes things get back to normal. Martin Pebble by Jean-Jacques Sempé I won’t spoil past that pink-lettered page.

But I love it. IMG_1250 copy

And!

Sempé himself sounds like a storybook character. He sold tooth powder door-to-door salesman! Delivered wine by bicycle! (More here.)

Click here for some of Sempé’s covers for The New Yorker. Lovely.

And this Pinterest board is a feast for the eyes, too. Enjoy!

ch

10 Comments

  • leandrajwallace
    Posted July 1, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    This looks wonderful! Totally caught by that cover and the font too. So sad his special friend moved away. But that pink-colored And gives me hope… 😉

  • Dad
    Posted July 1, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Are you standing in the middle of the street taking pictures again? Did you look both ways first?

  • Posted July 1, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I love a book that follows a character into adulthood. It’s so unconventionally cool.

  • Posted July 1, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Totally enchanting book. It had me at the cover and didn’t disappoint with it’s unique drawings and design concept on the inside. Thank you for sharing!

  • Posted July 1, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Had me at the title!

  • Posted July 1, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Yes the title and design grabbed my attention. What a great share!

  • tinamcho
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    What a unique premise! Thanks for sharing!

  • Posted July 2, 2014 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I like all books designed by Sempé and this one could be “Marcelin Caillou” in original version. Thanks for reminde it.

  • Joanna
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I remember this in French LOVE!

  • Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hello there! I have nominated you for the “Inspirational Blog Award” over on my blog http://www.thekyrahbanks.com