by Ann Jonas
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.
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.The 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.
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.