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by D.B. Johnson & illustrated by D.B. Johnson

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-547-23999-6
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

An homage to M.C. Escher’s head-tilting, mind-reeling artwork, this disorienting book asks children to stretch their imaginations and travel on a circuitous journey outside traditional, comfortable reading experiences. Mauk, an architect’s apprentice, wakes up in an upside-down world, and readers follow him as he makes a baffling commute to work. They also have a difficult trip ahead of them, as navigating the book is an arduous task. Children must use arrows to know where and how to continue reading the text, all while ignoring words in lighter lettering that run backward along the tops of pages. At the back of the book, they must flip it upside down to continue reading. While the altered perspective endows the illustrations with sudden clarity and richer meaning, readers will remain only mildly enthralled. Drab, blurry monochromatic color and flat, soulless imagery lack Escher’s exhilarating, engaging precision. When readers finally reach the ending, they realize it actually lies at the very beginning, on the very first page, using the very words that started Mauk’s whole adventure. Whoa! Few children will persevere through this exhausting journey. (Picture book. 6-8)