I can't do it justice with my camera but this—a two-page spread in the center of the book—is my very favorite of the illustrations by Bagram Ibatouilline. He has just sent it to me, and I will take it tomorrow to be framed.
The text, which I'll quote below the photo, runs across the bottom of these two pages, in white against the darkness of the painting, and doesn't detract from the painting at all. They go together so well.
It's not far to the place he has chosen, not long until he pulls the car to the side of the empty road and stops.
Grass, frozen after its summer softness, crunches under our feet; the air is sharp and supremely clear, free from the floating pollens of summer, and our words seem etched and breakable on the brittle stillness. I feel the smooth wood of the crow call in my pocket, moving my fingers against it for warmth, memorizing its ridges and shape. I stamp my feet hard against the ground now and then as my father does. I want to scamper ahead of him like a puppy, kicking the dead leaves and reaching the unknown places first, but there is an uneasy feeling along the edge of my back at the thought of walking in front of someone who is a hunter. The word makes me uneasy. Carefully I stay by his side.
The passage seems ominous. And therefore so does the painting...fraught with uncertainty but at the same time with this amazing, eerie beauty.
All ends happily, of course. But I love this moment, when you aren't certain that it will.