cover image A Long Way Away

A Long Way Away

Frank Viva. Little, Brown, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-22196-2

Viva’s Along a Long Road featured a bicycle trip that wound through the book from left to right. With its matte paper and silkscreen-like images, his sophomore effort shares the stylish look of its predecessor, but delivers a more ambitious story. The book is meant to be read vertically, and the journey proceeds from top to bottom and back again; Viva’s telegraphic writing ensures the story works just as well in reverse. On the top page, a happy alien family gathers (they look like space octopuses, with antennae and a fringe of tentacles). Their alien child starts a downward slide along a yellow path past celestial bodies (and a shoe), through the Earth’s atmosphere, past a whale and school of dapper fish, and into the blackest ocean depths. “Deep asleep,” the final page reads, as the alien lodges on an underwater cliff. The return trip shows the creature rising up through the ocean and back through deep space (“Under/ Over/ Around/ Zooming”) before being reunited with his family: “A home/ A hug.” Intelligently conceived and handsomely executed, it’s a potential classic. Ages 3–6. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Apr.)