BEFORE AFTER by Matthias Arégui


Age Range: 4 - 8
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This harmonious album of clean-lined, very simple images in before-and-after pairs or short sequences practically compels viewers to ruminate about changes and seasons.

The book is entirely wordless, with just a few snatches of visual narrative in the form of multispread vignettes. Mirrored sun-moon pairs appear at the beginning and end, and a caterpillar seen chewing up a leaf on one spread flies off as a butterfly on the next, for instance. But this book is about many transformations, not just a few. In dozens of large, softly hued pictures of rolling landscapes or single trees, animals or manufactured objects against monochromatic backgrounds, the creators depict the passage of time. They do this through natural seasonal changes, with significant pairings like a rocking horse with a similarly curvilinear rocking chair or, taking a broader perspective, with opposing views of an urban skyline under construction and then finished. There are also allusive references, such as a pumpkin with a carriage. Human figures are rare—tiny when they do appear. Younger children will enjoy the mild challenge of figuring out the connections between, for instance, a slingshot and a broken window, a homing pigeon and an airmail envelope, a woolly sheep and (several steps and a knitted winter hat later) wood smoke drifting from a chimney in the snow.

Peaceful, sometimes mildly humorous art provides gentle nudging toward a philosophical frame of mind. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7621-6
Page count: 172pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


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