Round Trip


by Ann Jonas

{published 1983, by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins}

I remember the cover, the texture, and the feeling of checking out a handful of books from Mrs. Marks at the Ridge Elementary School library. Not that I only checked out a handful, but some are so ingrained you could drop a penny in that wrinkle and it would come out flat.

The Story About Ping, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (with that cover!), My Brother Sam is Dead, Strega Nona, and something with two girls in a tree on the cover. A lemon tree? That’s a lttle fuzzier.

And this one. Round Trip by Ann Jonas. When my friend Darshana recommended it to me recently, I was floored. I had been trying to think of this book for ages, and she brought it all flooding back. Thank you, Darshana!!

Ok, yap yip shh. The book.

It’s lyrical and sort of quiet, a trip through the town before the day has really started. Past closed stores, a barely stirring farm, to the empty coast. to

After watching a movie and the sun set, it’s time to return home. But. There are no more pages. That’s when you flip the book UPSIDE DOWN and read it again. Back to front, and left to right.fromThe small farm’s rippled rows are now smoky factories. The trains exhaust poofs are now puddles under rain. And home is home again.


I love the stark contrast of black and white. You know I do.

But the thing that is driving this story and these ingenious pictures is the existence of negative space. That’s where the space around an object forms something else. Maybe it’s amorphous and just beautiful fill, and maybe it’s an entire new world.

roundtrip roundtrip2

Same spread, the top is going, and the bottom is returning. The marsh becomes fireworks as the day becomes night. (Images from Greenwillow’s blog.)

A while back, (a long while back, actually!) we looked at Caldecott-winning Black and White and those crazy images that are both vase and face. You know those. And these: a series of negative space animals, take a keen eye to these and enjoy. And you do know about the arrow in the FedEx logo, right? Right. You’ll never unsee it.

So enjoy Round Trip forward, and enjoy it backward. See the negative, feel the positive. Embrace the space.


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25 thoughts on “Round Trip

  1. Carter; I’ve always LOVED this book!! Things for bringing to the attention of those who didn’t know about it. I don’t remember if it was ever in a big book format–but if so, that would really be cool for storytimes. Ciao! S.

  2. Wow, this one looks so neat! I love the black and white pictures. We have just a few like that and they are for very young infants (and probably because of that they are not very exciting).

  3. Hi Carter,

    I am not surprised that this was one of your favorites! You have excellent taste. Funny I never noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo, very cool. My kids loved this book, they kept flipping it this way and that the entire time we were trying to read it.

    • I’m SO grateful for your recommendation. I couldn’t remember this one for the life of me, but do you know what’s weird?! All I could think of was FREIGHT TRAIN, which doesn’t read upside down. I guess I was on the right track (HA) with a journey kind of book. Turns out Ann Jonas and Donald Crews are MARRIED. Brainsplosion.

  4. I don’t know this book but I will definitely try and get it and see if my American neighbour who is also a retired librarian and amazing poet knows it. Thank you again!

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  6. My five-year-old son thanks you very much for this recommendation. We took this out of the library and he was incensed that I did not buy this so he could keep it forever!

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