The Many Faces of Nina
9 9 2017
The Many Faces of Nina

Changing expression with the stroke of a pen

Colourful markers roll across tables as the young children cheerfully draw Nina’s two very round eyes, copying the movements of Marianne Barcilon who draws on an easel at the front of the room. Next come the eyebrows. Barcilon, a renowned French illustrator known for her books about little Nina, shows the children how different shapes can cause different expressions: slanted lines make a very angry Nina, while two upside-down ‘U’s can be happy or surprised.


As she demonstrates each step of the drawing process, a room packed full of kids and adults, who occasionally lend a hand, bustles and chatters quietly, seeking the perfect colours for their work. The little ones watch the illustrator at the easel, and show their friends the faces they have drawn. When the time comes to draw Glub, another of Barcilon’s characters, the children listen intently and squeeze their eyes shut as Barcilon tells them to imagine the coldest of cold places, all snow and no shoes. Their hands tremble, tremble, tremble with the imagined cold as they draw the Glub’s wild hair.

Barcilon continues to lead the little ones in their artistic expressions through paper and marker. One can see not only her love for drawing, but for helping and interacting with the children as they happily scribble away. Barcilon walks around the room, admiring the illustrations that they have created, before the call for autographs begins. Children clutch their books about Nina or Glub in one hand and their drawings in another while the smiling Barcilon, pen in hand, welcomes them to the table.