Rich in visual symbolism and told without words, The Holidays is a shifting fever-dream of a book. An independent young girl is spending the summer with her grandfather, happily exploring meadows and forests alone in a nostalgic rural idyll. One day, her grandfather introduces an unexpected and very different guest, in the shape of a baby elephant. Through this encounter we explore the girl’s struggle to accept otherness and change.
There are many layers of reality present: the girl’s inner world of dreams, imaginings, fantasies and fears are given as much weight as external narrative reality. This fluid movement between states highlights the effect that emotions can have on perception: elephant shape-shifts to boy and back again as the girl moves between othering and accepting the newcomer.
Blexbolex creates a world that is unmistakably the grandfather’s – analogue clocks, old-fashioned phones, and magnificent wallpaper evoke a rural mid-century French home. Within this world, however, there are flashes of modernity – a computer game console and party guests dressed in hoodies, jeans and runners. This plurality, the sense that the grandfather’s world can accommodate more than his own way of being, and the growth of learning to accept and embrace difference is what is at the core of The Holidays.
Aesthetically, this book is a feast of colour, texture and pattern. Each page is striking and singular, and beautiful. Blexbolex has a pointillistic style that is wryly nostalgic, his use of pattern creates a density that insists you look deeper. The paper used in the book itself is textured, almost like old wallpaper – and this creates a sense of nostalgia and ceremony to each turn of the page.
A surreal, challenging, engaging beauty of a book – suitable for all over 3.