Saul Bass's Only Children's Book

A few American mid-century modern designers made children’s books. Saul Bass made one too. In fact, only one in 1962. Henri’s Walk To Paris, illustrated and designed by Bass and written by Leonore Klein was forgotten for decades. It wasn’t Bass’s best work. But it is great to see him in this medium. It looks as if he had taken the storyboard for a film title sequence and enlarged it to grand proportions.

This month a reprint of Henri’s Walk To Paris is being published by Rizzoli/Universe Books. It is the story of a young boy (who you never see) who lives in a small French town with all the love and amenities his parents could lavish on him. Yet he dreams of going to Paris, and one day takes the plunge. You might be able to guess the ending . . . think “home sweet home.” Incidentally, don’t look for a Bass-interpreted Eiffel Tower.

Although not the most engaging children’s narrative, Henri’s Walk fits squarely into the tradition of colorful minimalist picture books, that Paul Rand, Leo Lionni, Ivan Chermayeff and others did so well. It is wonderful to see how Bass tackled his opportunity. Virtually each tableau in this book of spreads could have been a Bass film poster. Here is a taste:

 

 


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