As they did in Before After (2014), Arégui and Ramstein invite viewers to investigate concepts by moving back and forth through their colorful, dynamic world.
The large-format, wordless book begins with the cross section of an enormous egg and the yellow duckling cramped inside. On the recto opposite, a mother and tiny purple offspring watch the still-unhatched oval. Next a spelunker descends into an amethyst mine; the facing page shows the holder of the rope at the surface. Each digital pairing offers plenty to ponder: What will happen when that duckling, larger and a different color than its siblings, emerges? Is that Rapunzel swimming across a pond? Is that little gray bird on the outside of the fence that pens in the parrots? Some scenes take more time than others to decipher, but the book’s creators have skillfully employed scale and color to guide careful seekers. Other images are unexpected: A figure in a tent, building a fire, is revealed to be inside a now-smoking whale; a vibrating heart precedes a bungee jumper. It is the distinct shapes of the amethysts in the final spreads that trigger recall and propel readers back to the beginning. The older gentleman at the window has a collection of objects and paintings that beg to be connected (to each spread?), adding another level of challenge. (He presents white, but other humans display diverse skin colors.)
Sure to provoke conversation, a fresh approach to looking, and multiple readings. (Picture book. 3-8)