Cleverly designed and perfectly executed, this dynamic two-way story across space, land and sea offers multidimensional adventure and possibilities.
Begin on one side, and it’s a journey down, away from the familiar into the deep. A warm embrace greets readers before a cephalopodlike alien descends, weaving past planets and stars on its topsy-turvy trajectory toward Earth. The appealing creature zooms by planes and towns, sea life and subs, before reaching the deep underwater world to sleep. Begin on the other side, and the alien rises from slumber, its trajectory upward toward heart and home. The illustrations recall Matisse, with their simulation of paper cut-outs, celestial quality and use of a limited four-color palette, which Viva proves can still create infinite possibilities. J. Otto Seibold and Gary Baseman also come to mind, for the work’s graphic nature and loose, organic stylizations. But Viva is his own master, as he uses the constraints of the two-way format to great effect. Readers will be taken on a cosmic odyssey, while encouraged to experience a book in multiple ways—to think of a story as an interpretation, not an edict.
Meticulously designed, from its art direction to the print and finish on the pages, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking work. (Picture book. 3-6)