Bartolina Busca-Pé … E o Zé! is a 200-page story, therefore it could not be conceptualized like a picture book, in which the illustration follows, almost literally, the story and takes centre stage. That was our starting point. So the end product is not a picture book, rather it is a book with pictures—but also with letters, words, and shapes that coexist on the same level.
The illustration does not unveil Bartolina’s world, it hints at it so that the readers can imagine and build it themselves. Characters are never represented as a whole, many times being portrayed through actions and emotions, and even then only partially, via nondescript elements such as legs, eyes, and mouth. A scare is a giant mouth screaming, the fear of the dark is a black spread… And the text has its own surprises in store, for instance when type is used to emphasise a noise, a gesture or a state of mind. Reading this book requires going beyond the words on the page to interpret the shapes they form and the images they reveal.