A Long Way Away: A Two-Way Story

illus. by author. 40p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-22196-2.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—This innovative picture book is designed to be read vertically from the top down as well as from the bottom up. Starting one way, the story follows an octopuslike alien as he swooshes down from space. A yellow wiggly line traces his journey past assorted sights like spaceships and a parachuting man, down into the depths of the ocean where he falls asleep. Read from the other direction, the story starts on the seabed and follows the creature up into space and into the waiting arms of his family. The spare, poetic text works perfectly in both directions. As in Viva's Along a Long Road (Little, Brown, 2011), the illustrations were created as a continuous 26-foot-long piece of art using Adobe Illustrator. The striking graphic design features a limited palette of yellow, black, blue, red and white. This ingenious book invites many repeat readings.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
From the farthest reaches of outer space to the deepest ocean on Earth and back again, Frank Viva (Along a Long Road) takes readers on a roundtrip ride. Using some now-familiar Viva motifs, especially the road that winds through the book, one little alien (looking somewhat like a turnip with tentacles and one antenna) leaves home with his parents' hug and blessing. Bathed in yellow, this alien follows that yellow paint road, making twists and turns, finally landing with a splash in the ocean, ending up at the bottom of the ocean, sleeping among the creatures. A page turn reveals a large yellow arrow pointing up -- and the reversed direction allows a return journey, words and cadence backtracking through the book until our alien is greeted by his family once again. As he did in Along a Long Road, Viva created this back-and-forth masterpiece out of one long sheet of paper -- this time twenty-six feet of it. The eye never tires of following this little turnip's path, nor marveling at what can be accomplished with a limited palette (here mostly primary colors on black). The trip is the thing here -- leaving home, seeing new planets, making new friends, and, when it is all over, returning to the loving embrace of family. Deceptively simple, this is one story a parent or child will want to return to again and again. robin l. smith

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