When in doubt, ask a librarian.
I was chatting with my librarian friend, Sara, and asking about book shapes. I’m at that beginning stage with my next picture book and I wanted her thoughts on how different shapes work on the shelf. Sara mentioned that small books often get pushed back into the shelf and their spines don’t show making them hard to find and perhaps getting lost entirely on the shelf. Then she said that an exception might be “Who What Where” the new companion book to “Who Done It” by Olivier Tallec.
(Please forgive my scans of the actual library books. I could not find any higher res. images on the web)
Both of these books have the same, innovative, interesting shape. They are long and skinny with a very hard board book cover and well enforced pages. The book size is 5 1/2 inches by 11 1/2 inches. It opens with the spine at the top, i.e. very horizontal. Both books ask “Who” questions. Such as “Who got stuck in the tree trunk?”, “Who got a little too crazy jumping on the bed?”. For me, this creative layout works even better in this second book,”Who What Where?”. In this book, Olivier Tallec uses the top page as the action page and the query page. The page underneath has a lineup of ‘suspects’ from which to choose. In his first book, “Who Done It?” the question appears at the top. For instance “Who didn’t get enough sleep?” and both pages are filled with a cast of characters. Some shrewd detective skills are needed to solve the puzzles in both books. Children (and adults— some of these were quite tricky!) must really study the details of each character. They need to compare both emotional facial expressions and physical attributes to find the answer.
At the back of each book are the answers. I think this would be really interesting to share with a story time, or with a classroom and notice how various ages use their power of observation differently. The only toughie is that you really need to be able to see the illustrations cleary and closely.
Kids would have a wonderful time coming up with their own illustrated mysteries. What Olivier Tallec has accomplished embodies what we, as illustrators do every time we develop a character. We give that individual visual cues that tell the reader even more about him or her. Their likes and dislikes. Is the little girl wearing a sport team tee shirt or lacy frills? Does the little boy hide under a cap, or have a purple mohawk?
I absolutely adore these two skinny books. I know I would have loved them as a kid and I think they have a lot of ‘go back to again’ appeal and would be wonderful to entertain a child when traveling or sitting in a waiting room.
Not only is the design of the book clever, the concept engaging, but the illustrations are absolutely stunning. Each character exudes so much personality and quirkiness.
If you haven’t seen these books already give them a peek and test your detective skills! Happy sleuthing!
THE WINNER OF THE BOOK GIVEAWAY for My Busy Green Garden is SHARON HAAN!
Sharon, please contact author Terry Pierce at email@example.com