De ontdekking van een onbekend continent
A feast for the eyes, thanks to Deleo’s dazzling, encyclopaedic watercolours and pencil drawings of exotic animals
Animal species are dying out at a rapid pace, but Terra Ultima is actually adding new ones – like the canary bee, the flamingo deer, the turtle jellyfish, and the golden-edged frog beetle. Two familiar species have been combined to make a new one, which this book presents in fantastically beautiful illustrations.
Terra Ultima is the account of several expeditions to an imaginary continent. Biologist Noah J. Stern describes how he came into possession of the archive of the explorer Raoul Deleo and how he made a selection of the drawings and diary entries. He supplies background information, connects the excerpts and provides frequent ironic commentary on Deleo’s experiences. When Deleo writes that he saw mouse carp swimming through the sand, Stern remarks, ‘I put it down to sunstroke.’
Deleo’s book looks like an encyclopaedic work of reference and is published in a large format, with maps, newspaper articles and an index. The yellowing pages make it extra authentic. The prints featuring the fantasy animals are anatomically precise and astonishingly believable. They are provided with Latin names and explanatory texts that are very convincing. About the butterfly chickadee: ‘Throughout the course of the year, its skull grows and shrinks. The growth takes place in the two months when it is building up stocks for the winter. The more hiding places it needs to remember, the bigger its head becomes.’
Everything in this book is made up but it is presented in such a serious way that readers will come to believe this continent with its amazing creatures must really exist. At the same time, questions and confusion abound. Did Raoul Deleo really undertake these journeys?
The combination of captivating descriptions and bizarre illustrations results in an unconventional book that will appeal to children and adults alike. This is imagination taken to the extreme, delivered with a combination of seriousness and plenty of humour. Terra Ultima is unique in its design and concept.
- Woutertje Pieterse Prijs 2022