Review of ‘Claudette’
Author + Illustrator: Hélène Magisson
Publisher: Red Paper Kite
Age Range: 5+, early childhood, lower primary, middle – upper primary as art study.
Themes: puppets, puppeteers, makers, creativity, difference, freedom of thought, visual literacy.
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Loutka is a brilliant puppet maker. All of his creations work perfectly, just as he expects them to. Except for Claudette. She is a rickety misfit who longs for freedom and adventure. What can be done with such a puppet?
Loutka’s linen string, nylon string, glue, paper and scissors just do not craft their usual magic with Claudette. Unused to his creations not being masterpieces, Loutka is somewhat confounded by the rickety Claudette, so he places her on a shelf and moves on to new puppets – perfect in every way.
Claudette just does not seem cut out for the usual life of a puppet – she wants more from her life! She wants magic and adventures and a puppet life filled with freedom and stories worth sharing. Loutka does his best to ignore Claudette but her charm, determined spirit and stories of adventures eventually turn his head and together they use linen string, nylon string, glue, paper, scissors and stories to create the most wonderful of puppets with stories to share.
Claudette’s plucky nature, freedom of spirit, her gorgeous red hat and her charming imperfections make her a character that young readers will be drawn to. She has so many qualities just waiting to be discussed and pondered in the home, classroom or library.
Loutka’s cosy puppet workshop, with his skateboard propped at the entrance and just the right amount of chaos, invites readers of all ages into the world of a pretty cool puppet maker as he toils with linen string, nylon string, glue, paper, scissors … and dedication to his craft.
Heléné Magison’s illustrations are richly detailed and the palette of blues and greens adds to the overall sense of timeless and whimsical wonder …with an appropriate dash of contemporary and quirky.
Magisson’s ‘Claudette’ is infused with magic. She has woven words which fizz on the tongue and sophisticated images which will be poured and pondered over.
As with all Red Paper Kite publications, there is a quality to the overall production which cannot be underestimated … and I suspect we would only see happen in a small press. These are books which have been produced with care and attention to detail and even the youngest of hands will appreciate the look and feel of these quality books – they are works of art.
Possibly my favourite detail in each Red Paper Kite publication is the endpapers, on which parts of each illustrators sketchbook has been reproduced. This gives phenomenal insight into the ‘story behind a story’ and a detail that is perfect for sharing with readers and budding illustrators; seeing drafts turn into finished artworks is an often overlooked element of sharing books with young readers. Likewise, they encourage young writers and illustrators to ‘make the book their own’ or ‘continue the story’ with several pages at the end for colouring or as story inspiration. Such simple concepts in reality and yet I’ve not seen any other publishing house include these ideas before … yet another reason to support small innovative publishing houses!
A Peek at the Creative Process Behind Claudette