Two years ago publishers Gottmer were heaped with honours from all sides (including the Best Dutch Book Designs) for a fresh version of La Fontaine’s fables. Now it is a characteristic of publishers that, having achieved a success, they like to prolong it. In this case the product is a new collection of animal verse. Not infrequently such efforts lead to nothing more than a pale imitation, but this year’s panel deemed the mission a success.
Here we have forty-seven spreads with the same number of animals in alphabetical order. Handsome prints by Sylvia Weve combine with Bette Westera’s lexically rich poems. Because the words are so numerous, they have been printed in grey – generally on a white background, but sometimes over the gentle shades of a drawing. Where facilitated by a dark passage in a print, the couplets have been reversed out.
The very effective cover shows a mandrill emerging from behind a black band down the spine. Also black are the endpapers and the ribbon marker. This is not just fare for real readers, it is the peak of the reading pyramid. A peak that deserves to be seen.