Digby Differs

Digby has always felt a little different from everyone else. For some reason he’s just never felt like he belonged. He longs for a place that felt like home, and one day his yearning sends him on a journey of discovery that takes him to a place where the air is different, and there’s a rushing sound quite unlike anything he’s ever heard before. At last, he finds a place where ”feeling different” feels just right.

Related: Early Years (ages 2-6), Germany, Picture Book

One thought on “Digby Differs

  1. Prisca & Ray Martens says:

    Prisca:
    Digby Differs is such a unique book in so many ways. I was immediately struck by the size. At 7” tall by 18” across the cover, it really stands out. The size really highlights the story itself, though. Digby is a sheep who feels different and like he doesn’t fit in (just like the shape of the book!) While he’s similar to other sheep, he’s different because he’s red and white striped and not all white. He follows a red and white hot air balloon and eventually finds a place by the sea and a striped lighthouse that feels like home. I love that the book is dedicated to the North Sea, which is evidently the sea depicted in the book. And, I love the endpapers that are red, like Digby’s stripes, and read, “Wherever you go…go with all your heart. Confucius”. As much as I like all of that, there’s something about the story that makes me uneasy. I think I’m bothered that it isn’t until he finds something that looks like him that he feels comfortable and at peace being with sheep that are white. What do you think?
    Ray:
    The unusual shape and size of the book is also what first attracted me to the book. As an artist I have always been interested in a composition based on two squares or two “regular” rectangles placed side by side. This unusual shape creates interesting and more difficult compositional problems to solve. Wide angle or panoramic views must be used by the artist with this type of composition. The unusual and different size of the book helps to support the title and main subject of the book. I believe the unusual size of the book helps to attract one to take a closer look at the book. As to your last concern I believe all of us maybe are uncomfortable with things that are different from our basic belief system. That concern finally eases when similarities come into our relationship with others. Peace comes our hearts and minds.
    Prisca:
    That’s a nice insight, that our concern about being different eases when we find similarities with others. It’s interesting that Digby didn’t connect as strongly with the smaller striped things he saw, like the cola cup or sign. He did connect with the large objects; he followed the striped balloon and found “home” by the sea and striped lighthouse, even living with another group of white sheep. Maybe the light in the lighthouse represents finding home. Another interesting aspect of the illustrations to me are the insets on some pages with a “close-up” of what happened before or after the primary illustration on the page. On the page where Digby sees the balloon, for example, the upper left corner shows Digby’s head with him looking at the balloon, while the main illustration showing him chasing it across the field. I’m not sure that I’ve seen that technique in many other books.
    Ray:
    I think it is just a way the artist highlights the main emphasis or center of attention in the illustration. It is showing two like objects in a close relationship. Both are red and white striped objects. You see red and white objects being highlighted on other pages throughout the book. One page, later in the story, shows Digby outside the lighthouse and then you see a closeup section of Digby with his bird friend. The red and white stripes on the lighthouse and Digby match. I believe Digby is happy that there are other things in his life he comes in contact with that look like him and it is ok to be red and white striped. You might feel different in the beginning but later find out that others are like you and it is ok to be outside the norm.

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