A factory producing black-and-white items faces adjustment.
A panda, a zebra, and a bespectacled penguin—two wearing ties, one holding a clipboard—welcome readers: “You’ve just won a tour of the top-secret Black and White Factory.” By turning the page, says a tiny-font footnote, readers swear to obey the rules: no messes, no colors, no surprises. This factory makes tuxedos, eight balls, and dice; it’s even developing black-and-white–checkered paint and polka-dot paint (older readers will pause, then grin). In the Animal Room, Dalmatians get “splatched” with black; a poster reminds workers of the correct direction of zebra stripes. Unexpectedly, in the Bar Code Room, colors start appearing. The guides beg readers for help—“Use your fingers to wipe the color off the bar code!”; “Rub the colors with your sleeve. Or your elbow. Something”—but change is inevitable. Before the upheaval, Funck’s illustrations are entirely black and white (natch), with speech bubbles and savvily expressive eyebrows; however, soft edges and crowded composition belie the text’s claim that “Everything is perfectly clean. Everything has its place” and undermine the attempted visual contrast of the color surge.
It’s conceptually clever enough, but metatexts and reader participation are plentiful these days, and the art can’t compare with Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up (2014) or Deborah Freedman’s Blue Chicken (2011). (Picture book. 4-7)