Long Way Away
by Viva, Frank

A picture book that contains 26 feet of continuous vertical art can be read from front-to-back or back-to-front: When read from the front, the story starts by taking the reader on a journey from outer space down into the sea; when read from the back, the journey starts deep in the sea and blasts off to a distant planet in outer space. 35,000 first printing.

Frank Viva is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer. His illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, on the cover of the New Yorker, on scaffolding surrounding a library, and on the illustrated stationary produced by his company Whigby. But ever since publishing his first picture book, Along a Long Road, making books is his favorite thing to do.

In this novelty picture book that can be read both front to back and vice versa, a happy alien/squid (depending on where you begin) travels down/up each page on a voyage from deep space to deep waters, with a warm family embrace on one end and tranquil sleep on the other. The minimal text offers just a few words per page, and typical page spreads along the way can read "zooming / around / over / under" and offer fun path lines for kids to trace, or forced rhyming place settings like "good afternoon / a lagoon." In all, it's a bit of a lark that would be easily forgettable if it weren't for Viva's ace artwork. His bold graphic designs are kitschy clean, weirdly classy, and inviting all at once, drenched in black and blue and shot through with noodles of zippy yellow that highlight the alien/squid's travels. Though there isn't much to linger over here, children will have a blast yo-yoing endlessly back and forth through the pages of this light mind-bender. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Cleverly designed and perfectly executed, this dynamic two-way story across space, land and sea offers multidimensional adventure and possibilities. Begin on one side, and it's a journey down, away from the familiar into the deep. A warm embrace greets readers before a cephalopodlike alien descends, weaving past planets and stars on its topsy-turvy trajectory toward Earth. The appealing creature zooms by planes and towns, sea life and subs, before reaching the deep underwater world to sleep. Begin on the other side, and the alien rises from slumber, its trajectory upward toward heart and home. The illustrations recall Matisse, with their simulation of paper cut-outs, celestial quality and use of a limited four-color palette, which Viva proves can still create infinite possibilities. J. Otto Seibold and Gary Baseman also come to mind, for the work's graphic nature and loose, organic stylizations. But Viva is his own master, as he uses the constraints of the two-way format to great effect. Readers will be taken on a cosmic odyssey, while encouraged to experience a book in multiple ways-to think of a story as an interpretation, not an edict. Meticulously designed, from its art direction to the print and finish on the pages, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking work. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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