A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.
If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.
New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step. (Picture book. 4-7)