Bailly’s illustrations and some unusual formatting take a seemingly ordinary outing in surprising directions in this import from France.
Thomas enjoys a vacation trip with his parents beneath a sunny blue sky to an uncrowded beach in the serigraphic-style pictures—until, becoming a bit bored, he wanders off. When the sun begins to go down he anxiously searches for his parents but finds only a book on the ground. That book, smaller in trim size and mounted on the next page, contains the same narrative, word for word…but the locale has shifted to snowy ski slopes and woods. There’s another, yet smaller, book at the end of that version with, again, the same text but a radically different setting: the moon (presumably, as the Earth is visible overhead in one view). Such tweaking of readers’ expectations is, as always, a fun game, but here the conceit works far better in the first two go-rounds than the third, as it’s hard to square the observation that “The air is so clear / The sky so blue” with all the helmeted, vacuum-suited figures strolling over the rocky moonscape, and the book at the end is not “on the ground” as described but actually floating in some sort of large tunnel. In any event, notwithstanding a false promise on the rear cover of at least a fourth iteration, all ends happily as the errant lad’s parents reappear with the next page turn (and the next, and the next) to take him home. Thomas and most of the other humans present as white, but there are a few apparent people of color in crowd scenes.
Poor execution sinks a clever concept. (Picture book. 6-8)