One-word captions (and two short phrases) point out opposites of diverse sorts on a road trip through town and countryside.
Between an urban “Start” and a “Finish” at a woodsy cabin, a station wagon piled high with suitcases rolls along through stylized, neatly limned settings. It goes over a long, straight suspension bridge that divides “Above” from “Below” and patterned, layered lines of mountain peaks that likewise separate “High” from “Low.” It motors past “One” donkey sharing a field with “Many” (seven, plus a calf) cows, a “Young” tree sprouting beneath a rugged “Old” one, and so on. Hatanaka takes advantage of a gutter to keep “Day” from “Night,” light to distinguish an “Open” shop from one that is “Closed,” and a double gatefold to contrast “Worm’s-Eye View” with “Bird’s-Eye View.” A closing visual index recapitulates the entire route. As the actual number of relevant opposites ranges from one pair of items in most scenes to nearly everything on the “Short/Long” spread, the focus seems to be more on adroit visual design than on maximizing opportunities to get a handle on the overall concept. Ramona Badescu and Benjamin Chaud’s Pomelo’s Opposites (2013) and Ingrid and Dieter Schubert’s Opposites (2013) are just two of a plethora of recent ingenious, example-rich titles.
A fine showcase for the illustrator’s talents, but a thin entry in a crowded field. (Picture book. 2-4)