Written & Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna
Published by Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN: 978-1-78603-157-0
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
The 5 Misfits cover is composed of collaged and painted elements in green, cream and purple, and is evocative of the Town Musicians of Bremen and the position of the heroes in the classic 1960’s movie, The Magnificent Seven. Our 5 Misfits live in an extraordinary home. A grand design that is wonderfully organic but not very logical. Though it appears to be falling down they are happy in their environment, bonded by friendship they live as they see fit. They laugh, they play, they do things their own way.
There is something rather satisfying about the freedom and the joy they feel as they lounge about. They are like children and enjoy themselves very much because they are not constricted by adult responsibilities. Unlike Jean de Brunhoff’s ‘Babar the Elephant’ series with its Elephant children who are expected to conform to the laws of civilization, this story is a celebration of the opposite. It presents self-determination, self-reliance and self-absorption as the preferred route to pleasure.
Each character has particular attributes that are as much to do with the inventive way their bodies are constructed as they are from the writer’s descriptions. Beatrice Alemagna’s illustrations remind me of the exuberant work of Sara Fanelli with its mixture of collage, painting, drawing and the insect like qualities of the main characters. The colours are rather sombre except for the addition of a vibrant red here and there – the extravagant hair of the Perfect One is a good example of this feature. The Perfect One arrives via the long and winding road with a plan that suggests The Wizard of Oz in reverse. A new more meaningful life is offered to our heroes, but will they want it?
The 5 Misfits display an honest and natural attitude to their lives as demonstrated in the construction of the artworks for the spreads where each one of them explains their outlook. The energized and delicate treatment of these pages is wonderful, filled with precise details and intricacies that flood across the space. Alemagna’s work impresses with its inventive and majestically realised environments that our heroes have no intention of leaving.