What Happens When . . .

by Delphine Chedru

{published 2013 (in English), by Tate Publishing}

I’ve been thinking a lot about visual storytelling lately. Well, I pretty much am always thinking about visual storytelling. And that’s why I was so tickled and touched by this book. Thanks to Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things for introducing me to this lovely find!

I bought it because of that cover. I didn’t know I’d open page after page of wow. Instantly, I was drawn to the simplicity of each layout. A spare white page on the left, graced only with one line of text. And on the right, a richly colored illustration to match the text. On this very first spread, you get a clear sense of Delphine Chedru’s suggested shapes and mastery of negative space. It’s graphic and bold and beautiful.

So what does the text say?

What happens when my balloon floats up, out of the zoo . . . ?

And then, this: Rather than turning the page, you unfold it. The text is still there to remind you of the story that gurgled up out of that wonder. Do you see your red balloon? The pages that follow are just as curious, and just as surprising. It’s impossible to not create a scenario for each posed question, and then be awed by the illustrator’s solution.  And to my bucket when I leave it behind on the beach . . . ? What you might not be able to see in that picture is a WANTED sign for the shark, and a tiny red fish with a sheriff’s hat leading his capture, all with that bucket that you left on the beach. Adore.

And wouldn’t it be fun to create your own pages like this? Or respond to these pictures in writing? Isn’t all creativity answering ‘What if?’ What happens when my left sock slips behind the radiator . . . ?

Well? What happens to Teddy when I leave him behind . . . ?

That bird on the boing-boing horse is just too much. Makes me laugh every time.

And then, a big, huge, monster question: What happens to stories once a book is closed . . . ?
This last page doesn’t unfold. This answer is up to you.

I am so under the spell of this weighty book with the lighthearted illustrations. I’m not sure how to answer that last question, and sitting with the ‘What if?’ is both challenging and satisfying, isn’t it?breakerWant more Delphine Chedru? Me too. I found this book trailer, and although I can’t understand the words, I can read the pictures. So charmed.



  • Julie Falatko
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    WHOA. Serious chills. This book looks AMAZING.

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. It’s one of those.

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Wonderful! I was just speaking with one of my editors about open-ended endings. Very timely…thanks, again. As always, I really enjoy the books you highlight!

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Do you find those hard to write? Do you know the ending when it’s open-ended or are you just as curious as the reader?! So interesting!

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    What a great find! Thank you for sharing.

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Nancy!

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Oooh, I like this one. I love the design.

  • Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Unique, right?

  • Posted November 1, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I love this!! Thank you so much for sharing…something in the simplicity of it all really resonates!! Glad I am following you!

  • Posted November 1, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Antonia Gialerakis and commented:
    Love this!!!

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  • By Saved for later | Olduvai Reads on October 18, 2013 at 7:02 am

    […] I recently stumbled across Design of the Picture Book and what a find! I never would have come across such gorgeous picture books (unfortunately my library doesn’t have many of them – still, I’m putting them on a list!) without it, such as this one called What Happens When… […]