Thursday, December 15, 2011

How you look at it

Palazzo Inverso by D.B. Johnson (823 J6311P PIC BK is, without a doubt, a fun book. 
Based on Escher-like illustrations, a young apprentice to a master builder is accused of tinkering with the building plans of a grand palazzo.  The building is topsy-turvy causing all sorts of chaos for the carpenters, bricklayers, and painters, not to mention the mistress of the house.  Staircases run in opposing directions and ceiling and floors are mixed-up.  Are things upside down or downside up?
The text runs along the borders of each two-page spread.  Once you’ve reached the end of the book the text runs up the side border, directing you to turn the book over and continue the story, reading towards the front of the book.  It’s a continuous loop. Occasionally, the narrative feels a little contrived to work with the illustrations.
The optical illusions make this is a terrific book for looking at the concept of perspective.  When turned over the, pictures show a different point-of-view of the same scene.  It’s cleverly done and draws the reader’s attention in different directions all at once.
Pair this book with A Imagine a place  by Rob Gonsalves (823 G588I3 PIC BK) or one of his other books in this series, or Reflections by Ann Jonas (823 J692R3 PIC BK) for further play with perception and visual trickery.
I would recommend Palazzo Inverso for grades 2-6.
If you’re looking for more images created by Escher, look for M.C. Escher published by Taschen (769.924 EsM 2006).  Included are works for different periods of Escher’s life.


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