HOW DO YOU capture the lively hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps? Well, why not bring it to vibrant life with some clever animation that works along the principles of optical illusion techniques first discovered by French scientist Eugene Estanave in 1900? Using a piece of special acetate paper that slides across illustrations with carefully positioned lines, images comes magically to life – creating a moving stream of busy traffic, scuttling like teensy bugs along a Spaghetti Junction-style roadway, a fluttering flurry of leaves in the breeze in Central Park, and a dazzling gaze up to the dizzying heights of a New York skyscraper... And that’s not all. The young hero of this book also happens to have some magic striped pyjamas that whisk him, not off to the Land of Nod, but on an enchanting odyssey to New York in his dreams. “The notion of having magical pyjamas helps the young boy beat his fear of the dark, and of being separated from his parents,” says Leblond. “It also helps him fall into a blissful slumber, and gives him wonderful dreams.”
Leblond also found inspiration from Dutch artist, Mondrian, whose painting Broadway Boogie-Woogie echoes Manhattan's graphic city grid, the movement of traffic, and blinking electric lights. “Originally, the book was going to be about an anonymous city, but once we had decided on New York, it made sense to feature the familiar sights of Central Park and Broadway,” says Leblond.
So why does a Frenchman have a fascination with New York? “Actually, I have only ever spent a few hours in New York,” admits Leblond. “When I was ten years old, I won a drawing competition and the prize was a trip to Disneyland, Florida. I had a connecting flight from New York, so I was actually in New York without actually being in New York.” But why New York rather than, say, Paris? It’s the allure of the unknown and the exotic. “New York just makes me dream more than Paris, simply because Paris is a city that I know so well.” With its novel animation and graphic illustrations, this is a refreshingly inspired book. “Nobody expects to see an image on the printed page suddenly move,” says Leblond. “It is really gratifying to see the reader’s reaction, which is a mix of wonder and fascination. For children, it is a gateway into a wonderful world. For the parents, it is a gateway into the world of childhood.”
No wonder this book was Highly Commended in our Junior Design Awards 2013.