The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

by Norton Juster, who rocks a fishing vest with mad style. How do I know? I saw him in person:

…and had him sign this smart love story for my own love story. When you are part of a couple who prioritizes Jeopardy! and does math problems on diner napkins for fun, this book matters.

Once upon a time there was a sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a dot.

Our hapless line jumps through hoops and over hurdles to impress his round red love. Each page is visually stunning; this book reads like a master class in graphic design.

This line, nothing but a straight series of points, becomes a very loud, larger than life character. A simple horizontal line becomes a celebrated daredevil or an international sportsman.

Likewise, the flirty red dot is just as zesty and appealing. It’s JUST a red circle, but Norton Juster characterized her so brilliantly that a simple shape becomes larger than life.

Soon, you are entirely wrapped up in the love story between a dot and a line. A dot. And a line. Two basic graphic elements.

You marvel at the line’s ingenuity,

his vision,

and his dedication.

But does he get the girl and complete his equation?

If the animated endpapers are any consideration, I’d bet on a happy ending.

This MGM animated short from 1965 is such a fun adaptation of Norton Juster’s work, and won that year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In the spirit of this Hollywood awards season and because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, spend 10 minutes celebrating the love of a dot and a line. You’ll love it.

Follow The Line

If you were worried about me ripping apart books before, you should call the book police on me now. No really. {#OccupyTheLibrary.} Laura Ljungkvist’s spreads in this book are just. too. genius. to be kept inside a book cover. Once upon a time my walls were plastered with NKOTB posters, and now I’m threatening with picture book illustrations? I guess I’m like that Benjamin Button character, getting younger with age.

Could be worse, I guess.

ELEMENT OF DESIGN: LINE

Beginning with that ‘F’ on the cover, a singular line swoops and straightens through each page. Much like Along A Road, the line continues on each page where it left off on the last.

Ljungkvist’s line cleverly wraps around a counting book. The line creates graphic forms on each page, and the reader is asked to count any number of quirky items formed by the line’s motion.

The continuous line is the only outline on the illustrations; all of the other images are filled with bright, bold colors, but have no outline. And speaking of the bright, bold colors, Ljungkvist’s color palette is sunny, yet muted, and made up of many unexpected color combinations. The graphic star of the show is the line, and the color palette enhances its role, but doesn’t overtake it.

I like to think of Follow The Line as a graphic design case study masquerading as a counting book. It is the month of Halloween, after all. Whatever it is, it’s irresistible! I dare you to get your hands on this and not want to E.T.-phone-home-trace the line from each page to the next.

No? Ok, fine. More wallpaper for me.