New York in Pajamarama

Michael Lebl%C3%B6nd and Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9rique Bertrand. Phoenix Yard (IPG/Trafalgar Square, dist.), $15.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-907912-23-8
Optical illusions suggest blinking lights and churning traffic in this interactive book, which depends on its visual gimmickry. The tricks result from a dense field of parallel black lines printed on a sheet of transparent plastic, tucked into a sleeve at the front of the book. By sliding the transparency over the book's patterned pages, readers create flickering imagery à la the "scanimation" of Rufus Butler Seder's Gallop! and its sequels. The action follows a stick figure in black-and-white-striped nightclothes (hence "pajamarama"), who claims, "When my pajamas start to whirl,/ through the air I can twirl." He flies around a generic city (along with the title, mentions of Central Park and Broadway suggest Manhattan, but few landmarks do) and comments in rhyme on the shoppers, "names in lights," and "skyscraper forest." Originally published in France, this book offers little by way of story. Yet the spinning wheels, waving tree leaves, and busy streets should produce the anticipated hypnotic effect, and curious readers will study how the oddly lined pages and striped plastic create the twinkling special effects. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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