Gerard Dubois

Gerard Dubois recently received the Sugarman's award for illustrating a book about Marcel Marceau published by Roaring Brook Press/Neal Porter Books. Top/left is a picture from the ceremony as well as some illustrations from the book.

Also we are sharing with you an excerpt from the speech presented there by an author Arthur Evenchik: "Gérard DuBois’s illustrations, in their beauty and ingenuity, are an ideal counterpart to Leda Schubert’s text. He, too, faced a creative challenge: Mime is an art of movement, but the pictures in a book are still. Fortunately, DuBois has worked a magic of his own, and as a result, his pictures don’t seem still. He captures Marceau in the act of tumbling, bowing, leaping, bending, doffing his hat. And as I looked at the illustrations, I kept thinking: This is the perfect subject for a children’s biography, because children love to move, and are fascinated by movement ... .

When we turn the page, we find seven-year-old Marcel, a fledgling entertainer, miming in front of his friends. Here, Gérard DuBois offers several inventive surprises. First, he has Marcel adopt exactly the same pose that Charlie Chaplin assumed in the movie—one foot lifted, one hand raised to keep his hat in place. With his other hand, Marcel holds a twig—his substitute for Charlie Chaplin’s cane. Then there is Marcel’s audience: three boys his own age. They aren’t sitting in an orderly row, like theater patrons. Instead, they stand before Marcel and seem engaged in a pantomime of their own. One boy grips his right suspender in one hand and holds his other hand to his laughing mouth, like an allegory of mirth. The other two boys pretend to be policemen. One of them leans forward with a hand on one knee; with his other hand, he points at Marcel as if he were identifying a suspect. The third boy bends slightly, his hands on his hips and his elbows thrust out. He is trying to look like a stern officer, but he smiles in spite of himself.

To complete the picture, Gérard DuBois adds a dog—a Scottish terrier, I think. The dog pricks up his ears, but he seems to be looking on passively, bewildered by the children’s antics. You can understand why. The qualities that the boys display—imagination, a sense of humor, a rich vocabulary of gestures—are distinctively human. Marcel and his friends, the mime and his audience, have these qualities in common. The artist is an extension of us all."