cover image Opposites Abstract

Opposites Abstract

Mo Willems. Hyperion, $14.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-368-07097-3

In this high-concept, image-focused picture book, Caldecott Honoree Willems explores the fundamentals of so-called opposites and playfully interrogates nonfigurative images’ associations. His tools are 18 high-contrast abstract paintings in acrylic and ink—one per spread but clearly paired—and a series of attendant yes-or-no questions. “Is this soft?” accompanies an image of curvilinear, interlocking shapes in black, blue, gray, red, and yellow; a page turn later, the question “Is this hard?” abuts a picture of the same colors arranged into a sharp-edged geometric pattern. Though early images seem to largely concur with their listed descriptors (“Is this dark?” appears beside a dim painting), some of the pairs—“intentional” vs. “accidental” and “broken” vs. “fixed,” for example—are sure to raise philosophical questions about the terms’ essential definitions. If expressions such as “mechanical” (the image resembles a circuit board) and “organic” (floating biomorphic shapes nod to Miro) may be a touch conceptual for the stated age range, readers aren’t likely to mind. This subtle, mind-expanding volume takes a familiar format to new places while showing how creators and readers meet on a page. Ages up to 2. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)