What's Wrong with This Book?

Richard McGuire, Author
Richard McGuire, Author Viking Children's Books $14.99 (28p) ISBN 978-0-670-86852-0
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McGuire (What Goes Around Comes Around) shows a knack for illusion and a punning wit in this book of visual games. The artist builds his characters and landscapes from smooth, geometric forms that would look at home on a computer screen, and selects a kitschy yet crisp palette of minty blue, chartreuse, pine green and cool pink. He links his puzzles with a circus theme, including a startled-looking clown who clambers through almost every spread. Die-cut holes offer peeks into other scenes, and these windows deliberately mislead: with the turn of a page, animal heads seen through cut-outs become shadow figures formed by human hands. Elsewhere, an elephant-shaped silhouette is revealed on the next spread to be something else entirely: a fat snake lounging with the clown in an easy chair. And, when the book is turned upside-down, portraits on a gallery wall take on different facial expressions (""Which side is up?/ I don't have a clue!/ There's two sides to each story, and both of them true""). McGuire's rhymes, unobtrusive if at times ungrammatical, offer hints on viewing the illustrations. He playfully acknowledges the cut-outs, for example, with the couplet ""So the story has holes. Well what can I say?/ It makes the book better to look through that way."" Readers will need to stay on their toes to catch all the surprises in this inventive volume. All ages. (Mar.)
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