Micaela Chirif: El Mar

El mar.
(The ocean) 
Illustrated by Armando Fonseca, Amanda Mijangos and Juan Palomino.
Fondo de Cultura Económica 2020.
German edition: Das Meer.
Translated from the Spanish by
Jochen Weber.
Baobab Books 2022.

Is the ocean a space, a surface, or a line? Questions like this are always a starting point, says Micaela Chirif. As she delved further into her topic, she recognized that the ocean exists in each of us. The interplay between the inner and outer ocean is collected in the texts of her poetic-philosophical picture book. Eleven imaginative poems written in free verse range from the heavens to the octopus, the whale, the mermaid, and the fish, to the stars, the clouds, the river, leading finally to the ocean: “When you connect everything, you can see its form / when you see nothing, you are in the ocean.” Nimbly and rhythmically, Micaela Chirif lets one thing flow into the other, humorously revealing that ultimately everything is connected. And so, the tiger that drinks from the river does not know the ocean but is still connected with it. The Mexican illustrators set the scene for all of this. Their various tones of blue in the collage-like illustrations transform “The ocean” into an inspiring and complete work of art. (Age: 8+)