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SPINNE SPIELT KLAVIER by Benjamin Gottwald
“Spider plays the piano” is a picture book that manages without any text. Nevertheless, it cannot be described as quiet by any stretch of the imagination.
On one hundred and forty brightly coloured pages, you can see things, situations and figures that make noises. Some noises are unmistakable and you can easily imagine what it sounds like when someone knocks on a wall or sneezes, for example. – You see the image and hear the familiar sound.
Other sounds are quieter or less frequent and you don’t immediately hear them, so you are involuntarily tempted to imitate the hissing of a broken bicycle tyre and the hissing of a snake to compare them with each other. The jury also made more or less tentative attempts at various illustrations.
In this way, the book can both cause some noise at a children’s birthday party and, if you are perhaps alone with the pictures, sharpen the reader’s awareness of subtle differences between noises and very quiet sounds.
Benjamin Gottwald succeeds in creating images that reach the ears via the eyes and, the longer you look between the ears, revitalise acoustic perception. Completely without words.
There are double pages in this book with juxtapositions of sounds, with narrative contexts and there are pictures where you can’t be sure at first glance what you’re hearing.
What does it sound like when a deer secretly observes two walkers in the forest? Or when a paper aeroplane whizzes over a double-page spread? You can already tell you want to try.
“This book is simply a joy,” writes Elsa Klever about SPINNE SPIELT KLAVIER. “A book I would buy. A book that I wish existed.”
This was clearly felt by all jury members on the last day. We spent three days expertly endeavouring to describe the different characteristics of illustrations and picture book concepts and weighing up the qualities, but in the end we were looking for a book that we ourselves would like to hold in our hands.
The clever, multi-layered and original concept of this picture book, the lively, confident and amusing drawings and the expressive use of colour unanimously impressed the jury. The decision was unanimous.
The Verein Neues Bilderbuch awards the Hamburg Picture Book Prize 2021 to Benjamin Gottwald for his picture book concept SPINNE SPIELT KLAVIER with a celebratory toot.