Stories 1234 (6-10yrs)
How strange to admit that Dave Eggers taught me Eugène Ionesco – Mr. Theatre of the Absurd himself – wrote kiddie stories in addition to his dozens of plays (Rhinoceros, The Chairs, The Bald Soprano, being some of his signature pieces). Eggers founded McSweeney’s which recently debuted McMullens, their new imprint just for children’s titles, which published Stories 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 last month. Being a product of Eggers/McSweeney’s/McMullens’ collective imaginations – and, of course, the source material being Ionescoean (is that a word?) – this is no ordinary kiddie book!
Let’s start with the delightfully ingenious cover: that’s not just a jacket flap to protect the book … it folds out to a spectacular poster (pages 74 and 75, gorgeously magnified) on one side, while the other side captures “Story 3” around the four edges of the oversized square with the book’s actual front and back cover in the middle. Not quite getting the unique picture? Really, this you need to see – and appreciate, fold by fold – for yourself!
“Among the most imaginative picture books of the last decade... Ionesco’s poker-faced absurdities and Delessert’s uncanny illustrations reflect the interior world of children with immense originality.”
"Newly translated by Delessert from the 2009 French edition, this gathering also features the first appearance of his illustrations paired to any English version of Story
Back in print for the first time since the 1970s, these illustrated stories by one of the twentieth century’s great playwrights make ideal bedtime reading for young children. The “silly” stories, as Ionesco called them, are accompanied by nearly 100 full-color illustrations, painstakingly restored by the artist for this brand new edition.
Each tale starts in the same way—little Josette coaxes an early morning flight of fancy from her father, who in three of the four is bleary from a long night on the town—but then veers off in increasingly elaborate directions. By the final one, he is repeatedly sending her to “look” for him in various rooms of the apartment while he shaves and dresses in the bathroom. Delessert’s crowded, detail-rich pictures add period elements (a dial telephone, a yellow submarine with visible Beatle) to surreal assemblages of toys, plush and fantasy animals, red-capped mushrooms, psychedelic flowers and cozy close-up scenes of Josette with Papa and (more occasionally, as she is generally elsewhere until the very end) Mama.
Handsomely designed, more silly than existentially “absurd” and just the ticket for sharing on a parental lap."—Kirkus
"Fresh as ever."—Publishers Weekly
"Some of the best children's books have an element of absurdity to them, whether in the story telling or the strange pictures that accompany them. This collection has a fantastic amount of both."—Apartment Therapy
"Originally published overseas piecemeal across the sixties and seventies, this droll work is all you could hope for from Ionesco"—Daniel Kraus, Booklist (Starred Review)