Created by the illustrator of the mesmerizing, award-winning The Stamp Collector, Nini may be François Thisdale‘s most personal story – it’s directly inspired by his experience about the adoption of his own daughter. “It was a wonderful challenge, having to say intimate things with words and images,” he reveals in an interview for IQ Magazine, available on his website.
‘Intimate’ is exactly the word that describes this exquisite, profound journey of how a family comes together across oceans and cultures. On one side of the globe, a baby hears an unseen voice tell her of “many mysterious things,” of rice patties and lotus flowers, of a little house with a pointed roof, of golden fields and jagged mountains. “Warm and safe, she listened carefully to all [the voice] said.” When she enters the world, “The first face she saw was the sweet face that belonged to the voice. The first hands she felt were the soft hands of love.” But all too soon, the baby finds herself not in the little pointed-roof house, but in a very large building filled with many rooms. In spite of “friendly hands” that feed her, keep her clean, “they were not the soft hands that had first held her.”
Thousands of miles away, a woman “rubbed her womb” and waits for a baby that will never be. But soon she’s sent a “precious gift” – a picture filled with promise: “From the moment the man and woman saw that photo, the baby became part of them. They carried her in their hearts.” As the family comes together, they will carry her in their arms, as she will forever carry the “distant echoes” that join past and present, “like a bridge that connects one place to another.”
Evocative and stirring, almost every spread is filled with sumptuous wonder. [I add that ‘almost’ because of one somewhat eerie close-up baby image that gave me pause.] Thisdale’s multilayered images that combine watercolors, photos, stamps, Chinese characters, and more, create a resplendent backdrop to a story so filled with longing and love. More than just another adoption tale, Nini is stunning testimony to the power of family.
Published: 2009, 2011 (Canada, United States)