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LOOKING DOWN by Steve Jenkins


by Steve Jenkins & illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-395-72665-4
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Torn- and cut-paper collage pictures without words begin with a view of the earth from distant outer space and, with each turn of the page, zoom in toward the planet. Readers see the earth from the moon; moving down into the atmosphere, the North American coastline comes into view. That becomes an aerial view of a landscapemountains, rivers, fields, and a town. The approach to a town is shown in a series of rather realistic images that look like photographs taken from the window of an airplane coming in for a landing. Each picture represents the enlargement of a portion of the previous picture, seeming to click in closer so that new details appear each time, but their location can be traced back through the preceding pages; this process makes readers pause again and again to examine the illustrations more closely. Finally, a group of houses gives way to one house, in front of which a boy kneels, scrutinizing a ladybug through a magnifying glass. A huge close-up of the insect is the last picture in the book. The illustrations have been honed to map-like precision; reading this book forces an understanding of how different maps fit together. As with Banyai's Zoom (p. 220) and Re-Zoom (see review, above), Jenkins's original idea may have been to hurtle viewers in the direction he chose (in this case, ever closer to the scene), but the book reads equally well backwards. (Picture book. 4-7)