Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » Bloch Party

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This is an illustration from French illustrator Serge Bloch (well, originally from France, but evidently he lives in New York City now). It is paired with a poem from J. Patrick Lewis, and it appears in The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse, released by Ginee Seo Books/Atheneum in March. In this poetry collection, Lewis gives us his poet’s-perspective on more than fifty jobs—from Belly Dancer to Philosopher and all kinds of occupations in between—in all kinds of poetic forms, such as haikus, acrostics, shape poems, and much more. Here’s Serge’s rendition of the Ice Sculptor (whose motto, don’t you know, is ALWAYS REFRIGERATE):

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I saw Serge’s work in The Underwear Salesman right after I saw his illustrations from Davide Cali’s The Enemy: A Book About Peace (Schwartz & Wade Books, April 2009), rendered in China ink on paper and photography. (His illustrations for The Underwear Salesman, as you can see in the illustrations here today, are done via digital collage.) I tried to snag a breakfast illustrator interview with Serge, since I am taken with his style, but it’s not a good time for him. Bummer. Maybe another day. But I did manage to get some illustrations to show you today. Serge’s work appears regularly in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times, and he’s been many times acclaimed and awarded and honored and all that good stuff across the pond (France’s Baobab Award for best children’s book of the year, for one).

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The Enemy tells the simple story of two enemy soldiers in their separate holes, waiting to destroy one another. Publishers Weekly wrote that the story is “an absurd waiting game worthy of Beckett,” Cali making the case for what he believes to be the senselessness of war:

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“At night, there are lots of stars above my hole. I wonder if the enemy sees them too. Maybe if he looked at them he would understand that war is pointless and it must stop. But I can’t be the first to stop fighting, because he would kill me. I would not kill him if he stopped first, because I am a man. I am not a beast.”
(Click to enlarge.)

So, in my effort to show you as much Serge art as I can today, though I can’t deliver on an interview right now, I have a few more spreads here from The Enemy, as well as The Underwear Salesman. And the very talented J. Patrick Lewis (who himself promises to stop by for a chat some time soon) gave me permission to post some of the poems that go with the illustrations for the latter title.

I hope you enjoy Serge’s art—and today’s poetry—-as much as I do. (If you want to pore over and gaze at Serge’s work in The Enemy, you’ll just have to click those spreads to enlarge them. I know they’re small, yo.)

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“They are enemies.”

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“Even when I’m hungry, I wait. I do not make a cooking fire. The enemy could sneak up when I’m not looking and kill me.

But sometimes I am so hungry I light my fire. As soon as I do, the enemy lights his.”

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“At last I reach the enemy’s hole—but no one is here! He must be here! His things are here. There are pictures of his family. . . . I wasn’t expecting him to have a family.

And what’s this? A manual just like mine. But there is a difference: in this one, the enemy has my face. This manual is full of lies—I am a man, not a monster. I am not the one who started this war.”

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THE UNDERWEAR SALESMAN: AND OTHER JOBS FOR BETTER OR VERSE copyright © 2009 by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustration © 2009 by Serge Bloch. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Ginee Seo Books, an imprint of Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.

THE ENEMY: A BOOK ABOUT PEACE copyright © 2009 by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustration © 2009 by Serge Bloch. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, NY.

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