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ABC de la nature, de Bernadette Gervais
Book
Work

5 min

ABC de la nature, by Bernadette Gervais

With ABC de la nature, the author and illustrator Bernadette Gervais opens a door onto our world in a clever treasure-trove of an alphabet book that brings adults and children together. In this beautifully crafted book, she sparks our imagination as she seeks to encourage discovery and wonder.

© DR
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A childhood passion

Born on 2 June 1959 in Uccle, Belgium, Bernadette Gervais fell in love with drawing in nursery school and had set her sights on becoming a book illustrator by the time she was a teenager. After a childhood populated by Babar and work by Alain Grée, she studied at the specialist school of visual arts LE 75, followed by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Mons. In 1990, she began collaborating with her partner, Francesco Pittau, a painter and engraver. Together they published around one hundred works with the publishers De Boeck under the name “Pittau & Gervais”. Their success led them to be published by Éditions des Grandes Personnes, Éditions du Seuil, Éditions Gallimard and Éditions Albin Michel Jeunesse. She is now forging a solo path in her art for younger audiences. 

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An alphabet book for children and adults

An alphabet book aimed at children but also designed for adults, ABC de la nature features every category, from animals and plants to fruits and vegetables. Its large format, perfect for admiring the images, introduces readers to the wonders of nature, regardless of their level of knowledge. Alternating capitals and lower case, Gervais gives a particular importance to the realistic quality of her illustrations. From stencils to sponge painting, the abundant references are highlighted with her precision and finesse.

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From generation to generation

By choosing a combination of simple and complex words, Gervais hopes this project will help readers to learn the alphabet. From “doryphore” (the French term for the Colorado potato beetle) to “elephant” to “yuzu”, her aim is to create a work that readers can flick through at their own pace, choosing to linger over the detailed, photograph-style drawings or not. With a perspective that is relevant to today’s world, the author’s unique style is both clear and elegant, accessible and fun. Designed to be passed down from generation to generation, her ABC de la nature sparks our imagination and a feeling of escapism while, more personally, paying tribute to her father.

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Travelling works

Gervais has often won awards over the years, and for this new creation received the Pépite d'Or prize at the Montreuil Youth Book Fair in 2020. This major annual award highlights the originality and quality of a publication. Her works have already been showcased in exhibitions, such as “From Pittau to... Gervais - Espoxition” at the Liège Cultural Centre, and travelled through the Wallonia-Brussels Federation between 2013 and 2016. Some thirty books co-created with Pittau have also been translated into German, Italian, English and Dutch.

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The Institut français and the work

ABC de la nature by Bernadette Gervais was awarded of the Pépite d'Or at the Montreuil Youth Book Fair in 2020, of which the Institut français is a partner.