Have you ever wondered what is behind a closed window? At one time or another, perhaps we have all allowed our minds to wander and ponder what we might see if we could peer inside. Marion Arbona’s imaginative book, Window, perhaps provides some insights into the unexpected things we might see. The saying goes that a picture tells a thousand words. Marion Arbona’s book may well be wordless, but, in her detailed illustrations, she tells a voluminous story of an intelligent girl and the fanciful scenes she imagines behind each window she passes. The production team at Kids Can Press can feel proud of the presentation of this delightful book. The die-cut front cover allows the reader to peer through the window of the cover into the book, itself. Within the book, gatefolds conceal what is behind each window the girl protagonist passes. Opening each gatefold, the reader sees into the scene behind the window (or at least the scene the protagonist images is behind each window). On the left page of each double-page spread, the girl gradually progresses left to right until she eventually arrives at her home, disappearing into the gutter position of the page. It is all superb use of design features to greatly enhance a marvellous book.
Window begins with a child daydreaming in school, looking out the classroom window. When class is dismissed, she seems almost as if she is escaping jail-like confines to a place where her imagination finally is free to roam. On her walk home from school, the protagonist (whose name we discover when she reaches her home is Martha) wonders what is behind each window she passes. Objects near—or the shapes within—the window inspire flights of fancy for the young protagonist.
People of all ages will enjoy Arbona’s playful, detailed black-and-white illustrations. The artwork was created with felt pens on paper. Apparently, almost twenty pens were used to create the book. One expects it was a long, drawn-out process, but, whatever efforts were invested into the artwork, the final product justifies the investment.
Behind a window with drooping pot plants on the window ledge, Martha images an interior filled with verdant plants and jungle creatures. A rounded window triggers an imaginative view of a ship’s porthole and a whale on the high seas. Leaves blowing past one window conjure thoughts of a cyclonic fan inside, blowing everything aside. Behind one window is a library filled with book-loving animals. Some windows are best hurried past…Behind one window, vampires play badminton. Elsewhere, a witch reads a book entitled “101 Ways to Cook a Child.” Behind another window, a giant sleeps peacefully—his tattooed arm reads, “A Child a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.”
The highly inventive creator of the book may well be reflected in the young female protagonist. Window was apparently inspired by a childhood game she played whereby she would imagine what was hidden behind closed windows. Arbona lived in Canada for a decade before returning to France, the country of her birth. France’s gain is Canada’s loss. Arbona is a great talent, and Window is a fabulous book.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.