Picture Book Snob
True friendship will always find you
Out of Nowhere by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, Nosy Crow
A beetle and a caterpillar become acquainted and are soon inseparable, sharing picnics daily and watching the moon rise together every evening. One morning, the beetle wakes up to find the caterpillar has vanished and sets off in search of his pal. Will they be reunited and can their routine stay the same even if they are irrevocably altered?
Using very few words and a simple but clever premise, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros creates a moving and thought-provoking tribute to friendship. This stunning book explores how even though friends might change, the relationships that matter will endure regardless. Just as the moon rises every evening, true pals can always be relied on, even if they or their circumstances are transformed.
Out of Nowhere highlights how others may not be brave as they seem. We see how vulnerable the little beetle feels without his friend and also what he does do bolser his self-confidence. It shows the importance of support from those around us but also demonstrates how little readers can help themselves feel stronger in the absence of this.
In a guest post for the Nosy Crow blog in which he discusses the inspiration behind this book and shows how the story developed, author-illustrator Chris Naylor-Ballesteros writes: "In essence it’s about friendship and how it changes and how we think we might have lost it. And how we can’t always know what’s going on in others’ lives and may never do. Hopefully friends can find each other again, maybe not quite the same as they were before, but still friends."
There’s a comforting, circular narrative with the phrase 'out of nowhere' appearing at the start and the end of the book. The rising moon appears in both the opening and closing pages. I love the gentle prose and the striking black and white illustrations, which contrast sharply with the bright red of the caterpillar.
The colour of the caterpillar recalls that of love hearts and suggests that friendship makes the world a more vibrant place. We see the beetle's wings for the first time at the end of the story, which implies that supportive relationships allow us to flourish too. The images are so powerful that it would be possible to tell the story without any text at all. There are a number of spreads which are completely wordless and they enhance the story’s elegance and atmosphere. Out of Nowhere is an exceptional work of art with a subtle but profound beauty.
About the author-illustrator:
Chris Naylor-Ballesteros is originally from Bradford and studied illustration and graphic design at Bradford College of Art. In 2000 Chris moved to France where, amongst other things, he was an English teacher before working in newspaper layout and design. When his children were small, Chris realised he loved the picture books he read to them, sometimes even more than they did – the picture book bug had truly bitten.
Chris has since written and illustrated several books and is currently thinking about the next one, probably with a cuppa in hand at home near Limoges. He likes listening to and making music, wandering around the countryside, a bit of running and riding a bike. His favourite season is autumn, and his favourite colour is green. Chris is the author of several acclaimed picture books including The Suitcase which we love too, and you can see more of his work on his website.
Out of Nowhere was published by Nosy Crow in January 2021 - see this book on the publisher's website
Read a guest post by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros in which he discusses this story's development on the Nosy Crow blog
Read our review of The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
As with all Nosy Crow picture books, this comes with a free 'Stories Aloud' digital audiobook download. A huge thank you to the lovely people in Nosy Crow for sharing this beautiful book with us - all opinions expressed are our own.
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