Vera Muratet is ten years old, draws beautifully and is a keen observer of animals in the city: not the ones locked up in zoos, nor even those on leashes, but those that live free in the city: squirrels, moles and mostly birds of all kinds. They are always very young, just like Vera In the drawings they often speak or have handwritten captions. In the book, Vera’s drawings alternate with her father’s photographs – indeed, as the editors write, Myr Muratet’s photographs provide a backstory to Vera’s drawings.
The title comes from one particular drawing, showing birds gathering and telling each other: everything is fine – everything is always very fine!
The book, edited by Francesca Todde and Luca Reffo, is the size of the old illustrated book of plants or of ‘edible and poisonous mushrooms’ that sit dusty on the shelves of our grandparents’ homes. It opens with a photo of Vera sitting on the floor and drawing a kingfisher: it is a memory of when the publishers first met her. (We can only imagine Francesca Todde’s enthusiasm at the sight of the drawing of the kingfisher, whose whistle she can certainly imitate. And have you ever seen Todde’s ‘A Sensitive Education?’) The book then closes with an essay by François Chiron preceded by the author’s biography: ‘My name is Vera Muratet, I am ten years old and I live in Paris. Today I went to school and did maths, French, history and some reading. Tomorrow I will do maths, French and fine art, and then I will go swimming and have fun.’
Vera and her book reminded us of Marcovaldo (written 1983 by Italo Calvino) when bending down to tie his shoes he discovered mushrooms in the city and ‘(it) seemed to him that the grey and miserable world around him had suddenly become generous with hidden riches (…).
Everything is fine. Finally, someone writes it in the present tense.