I was amused again last week when two picture books I had placed on hold arrived on the same day and were remarkably similar. I don’t usually request books on a theme – I just request new books I’ve read reviews of – but when they arrive on the same day and have similar themes, you would think I had put some effort into my selections. (Oh, not so!)
My two books are Emma’s Journey by Claire Frossard and Etienne Frossard and Ollie & Moon by Diane Kredensor and Sandra Kress. And what do they have in common? Well, the most obvious similarity is the mode of illustration. Both books use photographs as a background, with illustrated characters in the foreground. This has been done before, of course, as in Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny books, but it isn’t terribly common, so it was surprising to see two on one day. The other thing both have in common, is Paris:
Ollie & Moon live in Paris, while Emma makes a journey from New York to Paris.
Despite their artistic similarities, however, I didn’t much like Emma’s Journey. For starters, I didn’t think the illustrations meshed as well with the photos. Ollie and Moon look right at home strolling down the streets of Paris, but Emma and her friends look very strange on the streets of New York.
More importantly, however, Emma’s story is really kind of boring, while the other story is cute and funny. I might have felt differently had I not read them back-to-back, but I don’t think so. I think Ollie & Moon is a standout, while Emma’s Journey is just a so-so effort. Still, the photographs of New York in Emma’s Journey are quite lovely, so the book may gain some fans for its art rather than the storyline.