Pictured in a long spate of silkscreen tableaux bound up in a small, bricklike volume, a bored child’s daydream zigzags its way into an increasingly wild fantasy adventure.
Printed (seemingly) on rough denim, the grainy, stylized scenes are designed to be understood at a glance and paged through quickly. Staid opening images of a school, a road and a house are transformed by both increasing detail and the appearances of new characters. These range from a pair of bandits and a witch to a duster-wearing stranger, police officers, soldiers, a dragon and others. Even as both characters and visual complexity multiply, readers are further shaken up by scenery occasionally being turned upside down and later sideways. Ultimately, the stranger becomes a protagonist who escapes various dangers, discovers treasure and rescues a princess from a sorcerer. With her, he defeats the witch amid bolts of spell-cast lightning…and comes home at last. Aside from allusive chapter heads—“A hero is revealed. During a long and perilous journey several scores are settled. In the forest, night itself is an enchantress”—the narrative is entirely composed of one- or two-word identifiers beneath each picture that are strung into sequences (“The school, / the road, / home”) while, occasionally, themselves turning upside down or even vanishing in part: “the .” Despite an unconventional presentation and dizzying twists, the tale ends up on a classic course.
The delicious temptation to take an active role in the surreal adventure by adding details or even whole subplots will be hard to resist. (Picture book. 6-9)