A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton was first published in 2009 by Walker Books but originally Haughton’s work was picked by a Korean publisher due to his unique illustration voice. It has been translated into 20 different languages and has won awards in 7 different countries, including the Dutch Picture Book of the Year.
It’s no wonder A Bit Lost is such a great book. It is the story of a little owl that falls asleep off the nest into the forest…
… and then is found by a very helpful and enthusiastic squirrel who takes him on a journey to evolving quite a few animals, find little owl’s mom. It’s a heartwarming and funny story that many parents and children can relate to.
As the original intent, the book is meant to be understood without words, even though they are there. Haughton has mastered the storytelling through characters who are extremely expressive in body language and facial expressions with shapes that seem to be some sort of cut up collage compositions. His use of bold, bright, and contrasting colours are a highly artistic and imaginative accomplishment.
The first and last pages of the book are framed pictures, creating a sense of begging and end, such as in a movie, and the use of the cut out page right from the begging of the story already sets the pace for something unexpected ahead. Haughton uses tints and shades in a lot of his forest compositions creating a sense of camouflage but still allowing flora and fauna to be visible.
Then the pages compositions are a balance act between full pages in the forest and characters laying in white backgrounds, evoking distance and proximity respectively. He even created the whole typography for the book, strengthening the aesthetic of the book and contributing to his signature voice.
A Bit Lost is one of my favourite picture books, so much so I have a copy for my son (board book) and one of my own (hardback), and both are very much treasured in our home. And will certainly be in yours too.
Haughton describes the behind-the-scenes process of A Bit Lost in his blog. It’s worth a look!