I’m not much of a romantic, but with Valentine’s Day approaching I knew that I was going to have to talk about, well, love. Look, I have nothing against love—it’s the stuff of grand narratives. But I’m always interested in books—and authors—that take an unconventional approach to the subject. So, this month I took a deep dive into the Blurb stacks to find three illustrated books that do “love” a little differently.
This is the ostensibly true fable of Jru (a flamingo) and Baloo (a penguin) and it’s a story about love that’s about as true as it gets, from the first rejection, to the dizzying highs, to the inevitable fight and disillusionment, to the—well, I won’t spoil it for you. Jess Moore uses deceptively simple vector illustrations and fragments of speech to build the universal rhythms of the relationship.
Nicola Tesla is one of history’s greatest inventors (even if Thomas Edison stole his thunder). But did you know he fell in love with a pigeon? OK, he probably didn’t, really, but Amy Dunne imagines he did in this tragicomic, rhyming love story. It’s an ill-fated union between the inventor of the tesla coil and his avian beloved, as you might imagine, but it’s all beautifully rendered in Dunne’s spidery illustration style.
Rounding out this selection of unlikely couples is the story of a sneezy kitten and a bear with a penchant for bad words (displayed in grawlix form, so it’s friendly for those with certain sensibilities). The story is quirky and heart-melting and sweet, while the dynamic, graphical storytelling will please even the most sentiment-adverse readers (like me).