Atall tale of fatherly devotion with a dash of Edward Gorey and a lot of mid-century modern style, Daddy Long Legs is surely a frontrunner for the year’s chicest picture book. Created by two established French talents, author Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrator Aurélie Guillerey, it’s a story told in glorious Technicolor about a dad with an unreliable car and his anxious son wanting reassurance that he’ll be collected from nursery.
From the opening page, it’s clear we’re in for a quirky ride: Matty’s dad, a lanky chap with dots for eyes, a pink carrot nose and a drainpipe suit, leans, puzzled, over his old green “hiccuping” car. The pair eventually make it to nursery, but “what if the car doesn’t start again?” worries Matty. There’s always the neighbour’s big red tractor, says Dad, beginning to list increasingly absurd ways he could employ to pick up his son. What if the tractor’s tired? Well, says Dad, a man whose patience seems as never-ending as his limbs, he could catch a ride with Matty’s old ted, some rabbits or even a dragon. And if all else fails – we see Dad hurdling hills and trees – “my legs will never be too tired to come and get you”.
One of those books with the sort of repetitive pattern that can get a bit tiresome for adults reading aloud, thankfully Daddy Long Legs is full of such quirky detail that it never gets dull. At times reminiscent of the classic lullaby Hush, Little Baby, but with soothing promises that are satisfyingly silly, this is an original depiction of a parent-child relationship with an eye-popping palette to rival Miffy.
• Daddy Long Legs by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Aurélie Guillerey is published by Two Hoots (£11.99). To order a copy for £10.19 go to bookshop.theguardian.comor call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99