In an age where a few strands of DNA separate us from the humblest of creatures, in an age where we question our place, inherited from the time we gave names to all the animals, Armel Gaulme’s Bestiary is a salutary exercise where deft acuity of spirit and pencil line are displayed in equal measure.
Giambattista della Porta, Charles le Brun, Heinrich Kley, Arthur Rackham, and Walt Disney have all questioned and blurred the line that separates man from beast.
As wise as an owl, as strong as an ox – the virtues that we lend to animals and to which we aspire, can we accept them without muzzling those that do less honor to human nature, those that animals ignore without thinking?
This is a book created with sensitivity, razor-sharp observation and a lively dose of humor. More than a sketchbook, it is a mirror which we would be well advised to contemplate long and carefully – as we might just get a clearer picture of ourselves.
(John Howe is a Canadian illustrator, mainly known for his work as artistic director on The Lord of the Rings’ and The Hobbit’s trilogies, by Peter Jackson. He also published numerous books with Gallimard-Jeunesse, Nathan, Grasset Jeunesse, Casterman, Bayard…)