Books by Tana Hoban

CUBES, CONES, CYLINDERS, & SPHERES by Tana Hoban
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2000

Pictures tell the story in this wordless book. Hoban creates photographs that show the geometric shapes of the world around us. Everything looks spontaneous, yet her meticulously composed images make the four mathematical shapes that are her subject clear and interesting. Boldly framed pictures sometimes demonstrate just one shape; others show a combination. In brilliant color, she uses objects such as blocks, wrapped birthday gifts, bubbles, and baseballs, which have enormous child-appeal. Children are often present in the scenes, but do not dominate them. A child's hands show a Parcheesi board and dice, two children examine a globe, and a hand builds a sugar cube castle. City streets and interiors contrast with rural scenes. An amusing shot of shaped triangular trees in a formal garden leads up to the final shot of a castle that demonstrates each of the four shapes. Identical double borders give a unified look to each page and focus the eye on the subjects. Another welcome addition, by one of the best in the field, to books that make mathematical concepts accessible. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
SO MANY CIRCLES, SO MANY SQUARES by Tana Hoban
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1998

Hoban's wordless concept book of circles and squares is graced with thrilling full-color photographs but marred by a small, rude gesture in one picture. Most of the objects pictured are of familiar man-made objects, and most come with an urban flavor—manhole covers, construction blinkers, shop windows, storm sewer grates. Some of the photographs are quite funny—one shows a couple of kids with boxes on their heads; other photos have the quality of found objects—the back of a garbage truck, a side view of an airport luggage carrier. The caveat: A shot of traffic lights and a "One Way" sign includes a small poster of the symbol known as "the finger." Perhaps only city children will notice; aside from that, this is a tidy book, and one that puts across Hoban's undeviating message to look, and see. (Picture book. 3-7) Read full book review >
CONSTRUCTION ZONE by Tana Hoban
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1997

From Hoban (Just Look, 1996, etc.), a series of full-page color photographs of construction machinery at work, from a rubber-tired backhoe to a crane with clamshell bucket. There are two pictures of each, one a full view and the other a close-up, most of which are noticeably grainy, lacking the crisp quality associated with Hoban's work. All feature her trademark saturated color, and indeed this book functions as a color concept book, with its succession of red, yellow, and orange behemoths (the blue garbage truck, not exactly in the class of construction machinery, ostensibly takes away rubbish from the site). The names of the machines provide the only text in the main section; a picture glossary includes brief notes on the 13 machines featured. While not as tight as Hoban's other concept books, this will be a winner with kids who have devoured Byron Barton's Machines at Work, Anne Rockwell's Big Wheels, and B.G. Hennessy's Road Builders and who now want real pictures. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-7)Read full book review >
JUST LOOK by Tana Hoban
by Tana Hoban, illustrated by Tana Hoban
Released: April 1, 1996

Peep through a die-cut hole. Turn the page. What readers see may not be what they expected. Turn the page again. The object they spied awaits them on the other side, placed in a larger context. Hoban (Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?, 1995, etc.) uses simple tricks that force readers to adjust and readjust their views: What looks like leaf veins turns out to be a rabbit's ear, on one white rabbit in a group, while a star pattern becomes stripes on a melon. Among the full-color subjects photographed are familiar objects from a child's world (a toy boat) and nature (rabbits, giraffes), as well as less-familiar scenes (the Eiffel Tower). This lacks the narrative hook of a work like Istvan Banyai's Zoom (1995); it repeats the successful format of other Hoban titles (Look! Look! Look!, 1988; Take Another Look, 1981) without enlarging on or varying it. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3+)Read full book review >
ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, OR MINERAL? by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

In the jacket copy of this wordless picture book, readers/viewers are invited to enter a guessing game: to determine for each of the full-color photographs of varied subjects from a closeup of an artichoke to a crocodile if what appears is animal, vegetable, mineral, or any combination of the three. As always with Hoban, the excellent full-color photographs reward examination, but a key or identification of the photographs and their category or categories is sorely missed. Without one, the real use of the book is limited to librarians, educators, and parents equipped to explain the properties of sponges, broken egg shells, and honeycombs. Beyond browsing, this will only be as interesting to children as the adults guiding them through it. (Picture book. 5+)Read full book review >
COLORS EVERYWHERE by Tana Hoban
Released: May 1, 1995

Hoban (Spirals, Curves, Fanshapes and Lines, 1992, etc.) wordlessly introduces children to the rich color palettes around them in an ingenious way. Each page features a vivid photographic image that dazzles the eye—a peacock in a field of daffodils and daisies. Juxtaposed with the picture are rectangles of color showing the individual hues that dominate the image. Hoban is discerning, selecting these accompanying swatches with precision. The effect on readers is to make them see the component colors in a much more intense way, to see how they are blended together in nature, how brilliant reds and yellows create excitement in the lion dance costume in a Chinese New Year's Day parade. The process is gamelike; children will love matching the swatches to the photos, learning a great deal about color, hue, intensity, and texture without one word of text. A convincing case. (Picture book. 2+)Read full book review >
LITTLE ELEPHANT by Miela Ford
Released: May 1, 1994

The briefest of texts (by Hoban's daughter) interprets 20 photos showing a baby elephant in a rocky zoo enclosure leave his mother and venture into a pool ("First one toe,/then two./A big splash./Lots of bubbles"), enjoy the water, submerge, and laboriously clamber out and back to mom. Hoban's almost monochramatic photos—only a hint of brown in the background and the water's blue vary the subtly modulated grays of elephant and stone—are miraculous. While the story is told through the elephants' appealing poses and expressions, she also turns in gorgeous compositions of gleaming light and shadow and the great beasts' monumental forms; interacting harmoniously, each spread's two shots lead the eyes gently to the right. Stunning photography; enchanting book. (Picture book. 1+)Read full book review >
SPIRALS, CURVES, FANSHAPES AND LINES by Tana Hoban
Released: Sept. 16, 1992

Another fascinating collection of Hoban's provocative color photos. While still primarily visual, the pleasures here are even more intellectual than usual; Hoban's takes on the commonplace (a worn broom; an array of carrots), her sharp focus on beautiful objects, or even the enigmatic first entry (clothesline tangled in a blanket, soaking in a public fountain?) induce pondering on just how the photos may illustrate the title, meanings of the words, and principles of composition. There's less play with shadows here, and more photos with the simple appeal of cute kids or animals; there are also many subtle inferences that can be made: one sea lion's body is curled up, the other straight, yet both embody curves—and fans, in their flippers and whiskers; together, they form a spiral that echoes the shape of a ram's horn. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 3+)Read full book review >
LOOK UP, LOOK DOWN by Tana Hoban
Released: April 14, 1992

The incredible Hoban brings her unique eye and mind to another sequence of 28 splendid photos, subtly pairing them to explore concepts, designs, and colors as well as (almost incidentally) subjects. Look up at the swirling canopy of a sycamore or down at a circular grill that might surround its trunk; up at a vertiginous skyscraper, its sharp verticals gleaming against a blue sky, or down at a quiet park's soft treetops, silhouetted against the blue of snow at twilight; down at a rainbow oil slick or at a goldfish swimming over a muddy submerged tire. The final photo is another witty self-portrait (cf. Shadows and Reflections, 1990): Hoban's shadow, elbows akimbo to hold her camera. Intelligence and skill inform every exquisitely composed page; no words used, or needed. (Picture book. 2+)Read full book review >
EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE by Tana Hoban
Released: Sept. 24, 1991

Again selecting an intriguing variety of subjects from city and country—and presenting both animate and inanimate objects with a delightful use of color—this fine photographer pairs uncaptioned images that explore the concept of opposites. Sometimes the ideas are simple: the same gate, open or shut, though even this pair extends an idea from the previous page—an open and closed hand that also represent left and right. Some of the multiple ideas are subtle enough to provoke discussion: Is a swimming duck the opposite of a diving duck? Or is this pair merely a reiteration of the head/tail pairing already introduced with two views of a sheep? Beautiful, elegantly composed, nourishing to eye and mind. Read full book review >
ALL ABOUT WHERE by Tana Hoban
Released: April 26, 1991

An innovative pictorial approach to prepositions: 15 of them are listed in the outside margins of the first and last pages here, so that they can be seen when the cropped, textless inner pages are turned, each displaying a single color photo that—in typical Hoban style—is intriguing for both subject and design and suggests several of the words: "above," "out," "through," etc. Much to consider, to learn, to discuss, and to enjoy. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 3+)Read full book review >
SHADOWS AND REFLECTIONS by Tana Hoban
Released: March 19, 1990

Another assembly of mind-expanding images from a gifted photographer who now has at least 24 fine concept books for children to her credit. Here, 14 pairs of color photos explore the concepts suggested in the title—mirror-like reflections in still surfaces like windows or puddles; distorted images in a huge, dented horn or reflective glasses. Hoban contrasts colors, textures, and ideas: the masts of anchored sailboats and the spires of a chateau, each transformed by rippled water; the shadow of a thing unseen (hands making a cat's cradle) or a shadow that accentuates the thing seen (tall grass on a beach). The last, single photo is a fascinating self-portrait of Hoban taking her own picture in a many-faceted mirror. To enjoy simply for its beauty, to ponder for its subtle meanings, or to discuss for its extraordinary variety—a splendid book with multiple pleasures and uses. Although the subjects will appeal to young children, there's nothing here to limit its appeal to them. Read full book review >
OF COLORS AND THINGS by Tana Hoban
Released: April 25, 1989

Photographs in each quadrant of a page—intersected by a cross in the photos' dominant color—will serve as springboard to discussion of color, shape, utility, similarity, and a multitude of other subjects. Hoban has selected objects as diverse as a pumpkin and a ribbon, a bath toy and an ear of corn, all intrinsically interesting to a preschooler; as grouped in her dazzling, clear, sharply focused photos, they fairly beg to be talked about. Best, there is more than one page per color and always one photo with more than one color on each page, inviting comparisons and leading nicely to the next page. . .and the next. Even the endpapers display an exciting parade of brightly colored objects to beckon the "reader." Though wordless, this beautifully designed, deceptively simple book demands verbal explanation: while the subjects are concrete, the familiar is blended with the unfamiliar in such a way as to stimulate both thought and conversation ("Yes, that's a brown dog. No, it's not real, it's ceramic"). Fine as a lap book or for sharing with a group; a treasure no library serving preschoolers should forgo. Read full book review >
LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 1, 1988

A fine photographer noted for her concept books has devised another way to challenge children's visual imaginations: windows cut in shiny black pages frame intriguing fragments of photographs that can be seen entire by turning the page; the verso of the whole photo is another photo of the same subject from a greater distance, expanding understanding of the subject and making an opportunity for another framed detail through the verso of the next window page. The pictures—many of them of animals but also including ones of a Ferris wheel, a jack o'lantern, a rose, and a guitar player—are interesting for their subjects as well as for their beautiful design; without a word, they focus the eye on subtle patterns and textures, training the viewer to be an appreciative observer. This should also prove stimulating to older children, and will be of use in language development. Read full book review >
26 LETTERS AND 99 CENTS (MULBERRY BOOKS) by Tana Hoban
Released: March 16, 1987

Two books in one: a flip-over with an alphabet book at one end, a counting book showing coins used for amounts up to 99 cents at the other. This is elegant simplicity at its best. Using the basic colors of a new box of kindergarten crayons, Hoban chooses brightly enameled upper-and-lower-case letters and figures whose forms resemble those taught to beginning writers. Each letter is accompanied by one easily recognized object (egg, goldfish, umbrella); coins representing each amount up to 30 cents plus 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 99 cents are shown in as many as three combinations for a given amount. The organization of each page into four blocks gives the design rhythm, coherence and consistency. The quintessence of first alphabet and money books, produced with grace and style. Read full book review >
IS IT LARGER?  IS IT SMALLER? by Tana Hoban
Released: April 15, 1985

Relative size is the concept unifying Hoban's latest collection of eye-filling photos. As always, her choice of subjects represents a wonderful conjuction of eye and mind. See, for example, the rabbit's large ears against a little boy's smaller ones; the two large X's of a sawhorse picnic table with the four small X's of its benches stacked upside-down on the table; or the different measures of cake ingredients lined up in front of a partially-filled mixing bowl, being stirred. Often the motif is stated and echoed, as in the toy car beside a real Volkswagen being washed by father and son. Other combinations are more and less obvious; but the simplest, most predictable groupings make striking pictures, and the subtlest (e.g., a row of icicles against a grubby background) bear longer gazing in their own right. Read full book review >
1, 2, 3 BOARD BOOK; WHAT IS IT? by Tana Hoban
Released: March 1, 1985

Once there was a squarish book, of simple color photographs of familiar nursery objects, that endured for decades because it was so unequivocally and unsurpassingly a first book. These two squarish, heavy cardboard volumes (with rounded corners, on the side of the opening) are in that line of descent—the more outstanding (and rudimentary) because Hoban plumps a single object in bright primary colors—sock, sneaker, bib—in the middle of each page of What Is It? and the simplest, most natural of multiples—five fingers, four quarters of an orange—on each page of 1, 2, 3. The latter, indeed, begins with a single candle on a birthday cake—this is a book for children at that age—and follows, in a cross-reference to What Is It?, with two sneakers. Many libraries of course steer clear of board books—and there'd be no place to put a pocket except on the back cover. But for display, or for the diversion of visiting tots, it's worth considering—while parents, caretakers, and kin will seize upon the books—especially 1, 2, 3: a looking-and-learning knockout with its red numerals, number-words, and dots-to-count. Read full book review >
IS IT ROUGH? IS IT SMOOTH? IS IT SHINY? by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 20, 1984

Textures, yes—but also sizes of things, numbers and kinds and colors of things. Each of the natural-color photographs in this latest Hoban album illustrates several concepts. And it's up to the viewer not only to spot them, but to find the right words for them. The easy first picture shows five round shiny pennies. . . in a small-child's palm (five fingers, smooth skin). . . on a board. The cropped, deadpan second is a close-up of a burst bubble-gum bubble—the essence of stickiness. There are other gooey things and prickly things, smooth and rough things; there's even, for wetness, a rain-spattered window. As usual with Hoban, there are contrasting and complementary pictures without any blatant thematic statement; and there isn't a picture—the piles of pretzels, the pebbly shore, the graffiti-ed truck—that isn't interesting, often story-telling, in itself. (See, for effortless impact, the small, sudsy brown hands in a bowl of shiny bubbles on the back cover.) A glorious addition to a great body of work, or vice versa. Read full book review >
I WALK AND READ by Tana Hoban
Released: April 9, 1984

Following from I Read Symbols and I Read Signs, this is a display of the familiar signs around town that most youngsters first learn to recognize—like WET PAINT and POLICE, RESTAURANT and U.S. MAIL and (what-does-that-mean?) POST NO BILLS. These are also the signs that youngsters should recognize: besides POLICE (and POLICE LINE), ENTRANCE and EXIT. A few pairs match up: FIRE, on the alarm box, with ENGINE 14, over the firehouse door; FIRE and POLICE box with public PHONE. As usual, Hoban's photo-subjects are varied in nature and form; here, she capitalizes on the graphic personality of shop signs—BAR-B-Q CHICKEN and FRESH FISH DAILY in neon, with an outline of each, PIZZA in metal block letters, BAKERY (and a wedding cake) painted onto the window glass. The excitement of signs, beginning in small-childhood, is partly reading, partly signification, partly street-art—and all parts are encapsulated in this latest, high-spirited Hoban album. Read full book review >
I READ SIGNS; I READ SYMBOLS by Tana Hoban
Released: Oct. 17, 1983

Spanking, bold, head-on images—that put other sign-displays in the shade. Once again, Hoban assumes that, for kids, things are interesting in themselves: in this case, street signs and the international language of symbols. Street signs are for reading here: WALK on one page, DON'T WALK opposite. (You can't see them both at the same time on the street.) BEWARE OF DOG, cagily, behind a chain-link fence; NO PARKING, FIRE LANE, smartly, on a row of stanchions; RAILROAD CROSSING paired with TAXI, NO LEFT TURN with (of course) KEEP RIGHT. Also, yes: COME IN, WE'RE OPEN to start with—and SORRY, WE'RE CLOSED at the close. Big as the signs are, in their color-photo-rectangles, it's a lot like looking at the TV screen—another dimension that will do no harm. The symbol book, by nature, is something of a conundrum—challenging youngsters to guess what the wiggly arrow or the big white H means, teaching them the symbols for ladies' room and men's room, acquainting them with the very idea of a symbol language. (At the close is a pictorial key to "What the Symbols Say.") Both are simple, instructive, and dazzling. Read full book review >
A, B, SEE! by Tana Hoban
Released: March 1, 1982

Shapes and Things, Tans Hoban's first book, invited us to identify by their shapes the things pictured in photograms (and experience them as material form dematerialized). Here, we have the alphabet with one letter at a time printed large—and the objects on the page, as you may have guessed, all begin with that letter. It doesn't take from A (asparagus, apple, abacus, arrow. . .) to B to catch on; the self-reinforcing scheme is just the thing to build up small egos; the objects are mostly recognizable at age three or four (abacus is perhaps the most out-of-the-way)—or, in a few exceptional instances, so visually intriguing (a crab, a grater) that children will want to know what they are. And, though a page of diverse objects is the norm, there are other solutions too: most ingeniously, a page of question marks for the letter Q; three umbrellas in a row for U—and on the facing page, a single vase for V. Or, the enormously effective single, half-open zipper for Z. One might even become newly aware, because of the way the zipper intersects with the Z on that last page, that the enlarged letter has proceeded through the alphabet apace. Altogether: a knockout. Read full book review >
MORE THAN ONE by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 1, 1981

Clever—and simple: beginning with the title. Each of the photographs illustrates "more than one"—in more than one way. Thus we see a stack of egg cartons and also, on either side, a pile of potatoes and onions. It wouldn't be wrong, either, to see the stack as row upon row of cartons—or to think of the loosely-piled onions as a bunch. What Hoban is dealing with—as dexterously as she has ever handled any concept—are ten collective nouns: crowd, group, bundle, herd, flock, team, in addition to the aforecited. The one that applies to the main subject of the picture (the stack of egg cartons) is printed large, in a brilliant blue; the other nine are listed, in small print, to the side. So it is up to the onlooker to find anything else in the photo to which they might apply (or, to distinguish, in the bundle of newspapers, also stacks—which might be conceived of, in addition, as piles). A lesson, then, of many sorts—and both enormously inviting (a row of zebras, a bunch of balloons, a football team, a crowd at the beach) and lots of fun to search out multiples in. Read full book review >
TAKE ANOTHER LOOK by Tana Hoban
Released: Feb. 1, 1981

Perhaps the magic of Tana Hoban's Look Again!, a 1971 event, was not to be recaptured: that first glimpse, through a die-cut hole, of a fuzzy, starry, mysterious something; overleaf, the perfect head of a dandelion gone to seed; on the reverse, an intent black child, lips pursed, blowing. But if the drama of discovery is not to be replicated, one wonders what, here, prompted another go at the format altogether—for instead of a series of vivid, distinct triggering images (a zebra's stripes, the whorls of a snail shell, a peacock's fan of feathers), we have mostly less vivid, less distinct, guess-what allover textures and patterns—bread, a sponge, a grater—plus some less clear-cut equivalents of the first batch (e.g., a reptile's skin in lieu of the underside of a turtle) and just one bull's-eye: the spokes of an umbrella. What best conveys the difference, perhaps, is the head of the daisy here vs. the head of the sunflower in Look Again!—the same thing, but less arresting in magnification or in toto. (That's also true of the center of the apple here vs. the center of the pear before.) There's still some pleasure in the encounter, of course, but less variety, imagination, or resonance. Read full book review >
IS IT RED? IS IT YELLOW? IS IT BLUE? by Tana Hoban
Released: Oct. 16, 1979

The six primary and secondary colors are the subjects of Hoban's latest thematic photo album, and they stand out here in smashing clarity. There's a spread of green apples and a facing one of oranges, there's a yellow leaf, a pumpkin, and a surprisingly sliced Watermelon—but mostly these sharp, unadulterated colors occur in manmade objects, and it's a pleasure to report that plastic garbage bags, sunglasses, and flower pots have never looked so good. There's also much painted metal—a hydrant, a pipe, a rainbow of new cars, and just one confusing jumble of yellow street equipment—and, throughout, enough variety in scale and pattern and subject to keep viewers alert and responsive. Read full book review >
ONE LITTLE KITTEN by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 13, 1979

One Little Kitten goes Over, Under & Through, as it were. And to the extent that it's natural for a kitten to be getting into new, tight places, there's nothing wrong with that—especially since the experiences are also vicarious ones for tots. But the best photo-sequence in this very, very young book features, kittenishly, a big paper bag—from which we see the kitten stealthily emerging (first paws, then an eye. . .) in three, successive shots. We're also invited, more conventionally, to laugh at the kitten s antics: "A funny place/to put my face" is the inside of a running shoe (where, in all likelihood, the kitten was having a whiff of a sniff). The rhyming text is defensible as a come-on/carry-through for the very young (if on no other grounds); and, indeed, what the book as a whole lacks in imagination, it compensates for by sticking to business—the kitten is as good as life-size on these pages, and it is adorable. Read full book review >
BIG ONES, LITTLE ONES by Tana Hoban
Released: May 16, 1976

Only a heart of ice can be indifferent to zoo babies, and there are several show stealers here, among them a duckling captured in mid-sprawl and a dignified zebra colt. Nevertheless, you've seen better animal portraits (if you still have Ylla's Animal Babies, take another look). As for the concept, big and little as a comparative "relationship," the idea isn't developed; it's simply reiterated through bear and cub, sheep and lamb, camel and baby camel, etc. On the scale of Tana Hoban's previous work, rate this little. . . though its diminutive appeal can't be entirely dismissed. Read full book review >
DIG, DRILL, DUMP, FILL by Tana Hoban
Released: Oct. 13, 1975

In spite of a title that reminds us of Push, Pull, Empty, Full there's no particular conceptual organization to these photos of heavy machinery at work. In fact Hoban, who can usually be relied on to produce sharper, clearer compositions than these, never seems entirely comfortable with her subject, and her predictable uncaptioned views of dump trucks, cranes and loaders (the names are given in an appendix) don't add anything to what can be found in numerous other photo-picture books. . . certainly George Ancona's Monsters on Wheels (1974) packed a lot more horsepower. Read full book review >
CIRCLES, TRIANGLES AND SQUARES by Tana Hoban
Released: Sept. 1, 1974

Hoban's use of her camera to express basic concepts has become progressively more abstract and less dogmatic. Here she uses no words or obvious progression at all, but merely presents a series of pictures united by strong, geometrical compositions. In a few of the photos—of cut cookies, a house of cards, and a cross section of pipes— the shapes are determined by the subject matter; others—roller skating feet, a tugboat, a girl hanging by her knees—are more subtle and the shapes are imposed by the photographer. This could just as well be a lesson in basic photography or design as an exercise in geometrical form—in any case it's a real eye opener. Read full book review >
WHERE IS IT? by Tana Hoban
Released: Feb. 1, 1974

A cottony, eastery bunny pantomimes "I wonder. . . Is it there?. . . Will I find it today? . . . There it is. . . Something special. . . for me," and after posing with eyes coyly covered, streaking across a lawn and sniffing behind a tree settles down happily beside his "something special" — a flower basket filled with cabbage and carrots. Performing rabbits must be rated a cliche even by two year-old standards; however, most of that audience will be happily oblivious to the staging and Tana Hoban executes an unpromising idea with clarity, directness and good taste. In the running for this season's bunny blue ribbon. Read full book review >
OVER, UNDER AND THROUGH by Tana Hoban
Released: March 26, 1973

Tana Hoban's fifth album in the last four years has less of the dear-cut immediacy which usually identifies her work: there are fewer close-ups and still lifes, and most of the concepts are acted out by children at play. Groups of two or three contrasting words (beside, below. . . around, across, between. . .) preface a series of photos, and this time it's left up to the child to match labels and pictures. It's a small variation on a good idea, but whether it's worthwhile to Look Again and again is another question. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 18, 1972

More of Tana Hoban's Shapes and Things, paired this time to illustrate the concept of opposites. A turtle's head is photographed in and out of its shell, and a vegetable basket is at first empty, then full of mushrooms; together and apart are neatly demonstrated by the wooden pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, whole and broken by two luminously perfect, then palpably viscous eggs — and so on with Hoban's usual stunning effects. Read full book review >
COUNT AND SEE by Tana Hoban
illustrated by Tana Hoban
Released: April 1, 1972

As in Shapes and Things (1970) and Look Again (1971), Tana Hoban's photographs show you everyday objects in a way that seems to lift a film of familiarity from your eyes. The seven fingers extended from two chubby young hands (the other three are folded down) are more visually real than they would be in the flesh, the rough bumps between the twelve eggs in a carton protrude compellingly, the thirty rough-edged bottle caps in six groups of five (some topside up, some lined with cork, some dented) constitute an intriguing study in textures. And (in contrast) the 50 nails, arranged in seemingly random order within five differently shaped groups of ten, have a clean, serene beauty. Look and see. Read full book review >
LOOK AGAIN! by Tana Hoban
Released: March 1, 1971

The first look — through a square hole centered in a white page — tempts, teases, bestirs: what to make of those nodes and filaments, those cloudy stars? To turn the page is to see the whole — the pinwheel head of a dandelion gone to seed. Then look again — overleaf is a little girl, cheeks puffed, lips pursed, blowing the winged seeds away. Elsewhere, vertical stripes become the brow of a zebra becomes the zebra banded from ears to hoofs; a pitted whorl becomes a spiral seashell becomes a child's head bent, shell pressed to ear. In each of the nine sequences (most dazzling, a peacock; cosiest, the halved pear that follows) perception enlarges from configuration to figure to firmament. No words come between the photographs and the child; the creator of Shapes and Things (1970) uses her camera eye to reveal and relate as nothing else can. Read full book review >
SHAPES AND THINGS by Tana Hoban
Released: Aug. 10, 1970

Things to identify, shapes to perceive: like John Reiss' Colors, this is an apparently simple, actually subtle aesthetic exercise. Using photograms—in which three-dimensional objects are recorded on light-sensitive paper without a camera-Miss Hoban reconstitutes in white on black the everyday black-and-white: block forms are silhouetted; knives and forks have a silvery sheen, and through one spoon appear the letters of alphabet soup (that also spill over from endpapers to title page). Together the teeth of a comb, the bristles of a toothbrush, the squeezed outline of a toothpaste tube have a tactile presence; and in an assemblage of sewing articles, buttons and spools are contoured while the lace recalls an early photogram mistaken for the real thing. A pail and shovel are rial white on black—and on grains of sand like a star-flecked sky; in a spread of kitchen utensils a strainer is a dimity grid and the basketed eggs glimmer like glass decoys. The marvels mount—a mysteriously luminous shell, a lollipop glimpsed through speckled cellophane, the fierce skeleton of a fish. The images are both material and dematerialized, and the familiar yields a startling beauty. Read full book review >