An exploration of things that are temporary.
“In life, / many things go away. / They transform, / they pass by.” Each double-page spread holds a special sheet, attached in the gutter, that’s halfway between transparent and translucent. This sheet overlays first the right-hand page, then the left; it features black markings (different on every spread) that shift meaning as it turns. In one fine example, to demonstrate that “sleep always departs,” heavily drawn, closed eyelids move from overlaying a child’s face to a stuffed animal’s. Unfortunately, many spreads are less successful. All the primary illustrations pale significantly when viewed through the middle sheet while the sheet’s black drawings are particularly bold; consequently, flipping the sheet leftward often fails to hide or repurpose the black marks. Musical notes seemingly meant to disappear into a plant (“Music flies away”) are so dark—and the underlying illustration so paled by the flip-over sheet—that the notes don’t visually integrate into the plant but hover nonsensically. Tears drop from a child’s eyes, but instead of blending into a cat’s fur when the sheet flips, they sit confusingly overlaid on the cat. The conceit’s weak implementation leaves little room for attention to Alemagna’s heavy oil paintings with faces styled like children’s art, nor to the otherwise lovely catalog of things that are (or can be) fleeting: injury, bubbles, bad moods, hair placement, steam from a teacup.
A good idea philosophically and artistically—but tanked by weak execution. (Picture book. 4-7)