Thursday, February 10, 2011

Playing with light, dark and book design

Shadow by Suzy Lee (823 L5148S PIC BK) is so much fun.  As with her previous book Wave (823 L5248W PIC BK) it’s a tribute to the power of play and imagination.

A little girl is exploring a clutter filled attic where objects (ladder, bike, vacuum, broom, tools, boxes, shoes, etc.) cast shadows that each in turn transform into shadow creatures.

But first let me tell you about the book’s layout.  Start by turning the book on its side to turn the pages up.  This allows the author/illustrator to use the spine-page break to delineate between the attic and the shadow worlds. (Makes you wonder how this would look on an e-reader, doesn’t it?)  This delineation is crucial for the narrative to work, especially since the book is wordless.

Now back to our story.

Little Girl has just pulled the string to turn on the light.  Click! She starts walking as if along a tightrope (the spine break).  She bends down and makes a shadow puppet with her hands, of a bird.  The bird becomes haloed in yellow as do the broom (now a tall exotic looking flower).  The bird flies up (or down depending on which world we focus on) and we notice the wheels of the bicycle have turned into a full moon and a crescent moon, haloed in yellow. 

All the objects proceed to turn into creatures that take on a life of their own.  An old work boot with a flapping sole becomes the head of an evil wolf that sees the bird and chases it into the attic world. Little Girl is frightened and dives down (or up) into the shadow world to escape the wolf.  The next spread is best image, I think.  In the shadow world, all the characters and Little Girl morph into a single dragon image.  I must admit when I saw it the first time, upside down, I didn’t see the dragon.  It was just a black blob.  But when you turn the book around, the fire-breathing dragon is most apparent.  Brilliant!  I love it when I get caught out, missing something but then getting a fabulous surprise.

The story continues until someone from the kitchen yells that dinner is ready and click! the lights go out.  But that doesn’t mean the action stops.

The more I play with this book (turn it over and over) the more I like.  I just flipped to the back cover and saw the dragon image in the book now drawn to show how each shadow character is placed within the larger dragon shadow.

This book requires more than one viewing to take it all in.

Also, think science as a way to introduce concepts of light and shadows.


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