In order for a wordless graphic novel to work, the illustrator needs to be able to create the emotion of the characters through their actions and appearances using their artistic style. Gustavo Borges does this very well in his new graphic novel Petals. It is a story of friendship and magic that is also capable of evoking joy and sadness within the reader without the use of text.

On a snowy day in the woods a small fox meets a tall crow with a top hat and a long coat. He invites the stranger into his home, where his father is ill with a terrible cough. As luck would have it, the crow is a magician in possession of the right medicine for him. He continues to stay with the fox family, entertaining them with his talents and helping around the house while war continues outside. But as it seems everything will be okay, someone else becomes sick and the medicine has run out.

Without the use of dialogue or narration, Borges creates a touching story. The emotions of the characters is visually shown through their actions and appearances. The gentleman crow is a mysterious fellow but provides magic and assistance to his new fox friends. Inside his top hat, he pulls out a melody of musical notes that fly around the house, along with a small flower that becomes a special medicine for everyone. The foxes are humble creatures, grateful for their new friend and the light he brings to their dreary lives. The cast of characters become a family, helping each other during the long winter. The plot of the story progresses very well with multiple panels of action and emotions, never losing a beat or the reader’s attention.

Borges’s art style creates an atmosphere that becomes gloomy and snowy in one scene but cheery later on. He uses a combination of cool colors and shadows to remind readers of the snowy scene outside but as spring comes, so does a light splash of warm colors. Towards the end of the story, readers are taken on a tour of the artist’s creative process with preliminary sketches and descriptions of his creative process, along with guest artwork by other artists.

Gustavo Borges’s Petals is a beautiful story that needs no words to convey its message. It will make a great addition to any public library’s children’s collection, as well as a school’s library room. Readers from 3rd-6th grade will be intrigued by the illustrator’s artistic style and expressive characters.

By Gustavo Borges
ISBN: 9781684152346
Kaboom, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 7-11

  • Gloria

    | She/Her Children's Librarian, Elmont Memorial Library

    Gloria is a full-time children’s librarian at the Elmont Memorial Library in Long Island, New York where she runs a monthly STEAM program, a graphic novel book club, and storytime for preschoolers. During her free time, she is found reading anything and everything from the classics, to poetry, to the newest best seller. Her other interests include writing, online games, exploring new areas in her home state, and spending time with friends, family, and colleagues. She has also written articles and reviews for the website Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries and on her personal Goodreads page.

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