Black and White

Two Caldecotts in a row? Why not?! I am no one to argue with the people who pick the best of the best. There’s just one thing I dislike about David Macauley’s book: It’s too tall. In my library days {Go Lions}, my shelves were too short for it to fit correctly. With the spine facing up towards the top of the shelf, it always got lost in the stacks. Kids passed right by the magic. Solution: permanent residence on top of the shelf. You know, where all the brand-new-shiny books are staged and beg you to grab them and take them home? I replaced the mylar protection {nerdy librarian speak} many, many times. I guess my kids just had good taste.


Who doesn’t love a deal? Four stories for the price of one? Wait a minute, are those people waiting for this train? Wait a minute, is that a cow or that guy? Wait a minute, how do they know how to make newspaper hats, too?

Wait a minute, why are these pictures colliding?

Element of design: Negative Space

David Macauley’s nonlinear storytelling must rely on design to communicate, because his visuals are as necessary as his words. So many principles of graphic design are at play in the layout of this book. I particularly love the complex lines that both constrain and connect the four quadrants. {The gutter serves as one of the lines. So cool.}

Black and White jostles your reading experience and forces you to examine both what is there and what is not there. Just like negative space.

Negative space refers to the area around an explicit form in an image. Often, the space left behind is just as important to the image and becomes the main compositional element. The play between positive and negative space allows the eye to both rest and travel in a picture.

Surely you have seen images like these:

What are we ‘supposed’ to see? Are multiple interpretations of an image ok in art? If we are confused and intrigued and surprised, kudos to the designer.

The vase or the face? The robber or the holstein?

Good question.


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