By Frank Viva
This is an adventure book involving the travels of either an alien or an octopus. It all depends which end of the book you begin with since this book is designed to be read front-to-back OR back-to-front. The book is held lengthwise so that each page creates a double spread, with text read top-to-bottom OR bottom to top. Confused? You won’t be once you get your hands on the actual book.
Inside the front cover, the text begins:
ZOOM AWAY ON AN
ADVENTURE THAT BEGINS ON
A DISTANT PLANET
AND TAKES YOU SOARING
INTO THE MYSTERIOUS DEEP.
GO THIS AWAY
Conversely, from the back cover, the text begins:
GO THAT AWAY
ZOOM OFF ON AN
ADVENTURE THAT BEGINS DEEP
AND TAKES YOU ZIPPING
INTO THE MYSTERIOUS COSMOS.
Thus, depending on the direction you choose, your vertical voyage either plunges downward from space to sea or rises upward from sea to space. How can this book not invite repeated readings? Readers will also want to experiment with whether the meaning is intact, altered or lost when reading pages bottom to top. They can recommend adding words or phrases to deepen or expand understanding. In doing so, they are actively making meaning, playing with order and referring to Viva’s retro illustrations all of which are cast in a limited palette of single shades of blue, yellow, red, black and beige.
The novelty of the book’s construction will also lend itself to shared readings. I can even imagine turn-taking whereby one begins at the front and the other begins at the back to determine the middle point of the adventure. (The middle spread is perfect!)
It’s a quirky, playful book,...just what you’d want when the main character is an alien/octopus.