Emmett and Caleb – Karen Hottois & Delphine Renon

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emmettandcalebFrom the moment you open Emmett and Caleb, you know you are in for something a little bit different.

Is it the gorgeous quality hardback and heavy pages? Is it the unusual typefaces and illustrations? Or is it the amount of text on each page: more than your usual picture book, yet not as much as a chapter book either?

Ultimately, what makes this book unique is the story and the way it is told.

A beautiful story following an unusual friendship between two creatures who, despite their differences, find so much to enjoy together in every season of the year.

Early-rising Emmet gets impatient with lazy bones Caleb – although Caleb loves staying up late to look at the stars. The two friends eat together, play together and explore the world together. Until a kind deed goes wrong and the friendship is threatened.

Will the friends be able to sort out their own feelings and find a way to forgive each other?

I wasn’t surprised to find that this book has been translated (by Sarah Ardizzone) from Karen Hottois’ original French version. Somehow it feels ‘different’ at a linguistic level from many native English picture books; something about the rhythm of the language and the angle from which the story is told. It is different in a refreshing, surprising way.


The characters are likeable but flawed – even the minor characters come across as real as they are forgetful, over-excitable and full of cold – just like real people can be! The way the main characters work through their problems, eventually overcoming them and learning and growing from their mistakes, make this a wonderful story to share with children of any age.

The illustrations by Delphine Renon complement the story perfectly and the expressive faces clearly show the characters’ emotions, adding to a holistic reading experience that is very satisfying and to which you would want to return again and again.


Karen Hottois
Delphine Renon
Book Island

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