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, Walt Disney, all have questioned and blurred the line that separates man from beast.
And in the end, can we accept the qualities to which we aspire: brave as a lion, strong as a bull and others, without regarding face to… muzzle the less redeeming human qualities that animals selflessly ignore? This is a book created with sensitivity, razor-sharp observation and a lively dose of humor, a mirror in which we would be well inspired to look long and carefully. We might just get a clearer glimpse 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…)