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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Along a Long Road, with words and art by Frank Viva. Harper, 2011. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Along a long road
Going up
Around a small town
and down
Into a tunnel
And out"

Frank Viva has cycled in many places around the say he likes it would be an understatement. When we see some of what this book's cyclist sees as he makes his way along a golden winding road, we can understand the allure. It is lucky for us that he takes us back to the beginning of the ride, and encourages a second trip. This time we will be more observant and not miss some of what was missed on the first go-round.

The road never stops, sailing on past towns, into villages, alongside the ocean, past farms and over bridges, through tunnels, past shops and people. There is so much to see as we travel along this 'long road' and much to remind us of what has come earlier in the trek. It is simply told, leaving the visual images to tell the greater part of the story. While the illustrations appear, at first look, to be as simple as the story, the more you look the more you see. Each of the images on the endpapers, both front and back, can be found in the artwork created. Using four colors adds to the impression that it is simply drawn, in order to tell a minimalist story...not so! Always the shiny yellow road leads us forward, at a frenetic pace with one goal in get to the end and to start all over again.

Children will continually notice what we are passing along the way...the whale, the boy and his mother and his dog, the apple on the road and how it came to be there, the various drivers, the ocean liner, the cyclist's attention to the road and the trip he is making, the signs, the lighthouse....there are a myriad of things for the observant child to discover. While only the artist can share his impetus for writing his first picture book for children, he obviously has good intentions for capturing their attention to detail.

To think that this book began as a thirty-five-foot piece of art is awe-inspiring. Wouldn't it be a treat to actually see it on display?

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