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Nicolas Debon Biography - Sidelights

review warlord carr soldier

Although freelance author and illustrator Nicolas Debon now makes his home in France, he began his career in children's books while living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Some of his first illustrations were for Virginia Walton Pilegard's "Warlord" series, which includes such tales as The Warlord's Puzzle, The Warlord's Beads, and The Warlord's Fish. In these books, Pilegard relates legends about the inventors of various ancient Chinese innovations, including the compass and the abacus. Debon's illustrations for The Warlord's Fish, explaining the invention of the compass, were particularly praised by reviewers. They "convincingly visualize the historical setting and display a fine sense of color and composition," commented Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, while School Library Journal contributor Laurie Edwards deemed the pictures "stunning" and commented favorably on their "subtle shading and engaging design."

Debon is also the author of two self-illustrated works, A Brave Soldier and Four Pictures by Emily Carr, both picture books dealing with Canadian history. The former, described as a "well told, powerfully illustrated, and timely" anti-war tale by School Library Journal contributor Louise L. Sherman, is about a Canadian soldier named Frank who enlists to fight in France during World War I. He and his friend arrive at the front in high spirits, but they quickly become disillusioned. Before long, Frank's friend is killed, and in the same attack, Frank is wounded so badly that he is sent home. "While Debon does not gloss over the brutal conditions experienced in World War I," Victoria Pennell wrote in Resource Links, "he does not dwell on the horror or glorify the fighting" either.

A finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award, Four Pictures by Emily Carr offers a unique biography Debon's atmospheric illustrations depict an artist and his apprentice who fashion a compass to find their way out of the desert after they are abducted in Virginia Walton Pilegard's picture book set in ancient China. (From The Warlord's Fish. ) of the pioneering Canadian painter. Showing talent as a child, Carr eventually abandoned her art while still young, not returning to the canvas until the age of fiftysix, when some of her early works finally received much deserved critical attention. Debon drew on Carr's detailed journals in writing the book, and often the words which he places in Carr's mouth are drawn directly from her own writings. Told in a format reminiscent of a comic book, Four Pictures by Emily Carr "distill[s] four periods in the Canadian artist's life … into enticing vignettes," Sophie R. Brookover wrote in School Library Journal. Finding Debon's approach "innovative," Horn Book's Lolly Robinson recommended "this unusual and highly successful homage to Carr … for late bloomers of any age and vocation."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of A Brave Soldier, p. 491; February 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Warlord's Fish, p. 1002; April 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Martial Arts Book, pp. 1468-1469; December 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Four Pictures by Emily Carr, p. 658.

Books in Canada, November, 2002, Deborah Wandal, review of A Brave Soldier, pp. 39-40.

Horn Book, January-February, 2004, Lolly Robinson, review of Four Pictures by Emily Carr, p. 100.

Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2000, review of The Warlord's Puzzle, p. 90.

Resource Links, December, 2002, Victoria Pennell, review of A Brave Soldier, pp. 4-5.

School Library Journal, June, 2000, Margaret A. Chang, review of The Warlord's Puzzle, p. 124; February, 2002, Karen Land, review of The Warlord's Beads, p. 110; February, 2003, Louise L. Sherman, review of A Brave Soldier, p. 104, Laurie Edwards, review of The Warlord's Fish, p. 120; August, 2003, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of Florence Nightingale, p. 153; September, 2003, Donna Cardon, review of Liberty or Death: A Story about Patrick Henry, p. 203; October, 2003, review of A Brave Soldier, p. S23; November, 2003, Sophie R. Brookover, review of Four Pictures by Emily Carr, pp. 154-155.

Teaching Children Mathematics, February, 2003, Alison S. Claus, review of The Warlord's Beads, pp. 365-366.

ONLINE

Annick Press Web site, http://www.annickpress.com/ (January 12, 2004), "Nicolas Debon."

Nicolas Debon Home Page, http://ndebon.tripod.com/ (January 12, 2004).*

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