Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More

Candlewick. Sept. 2021. 56p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536222135.
Gr 2-4–Schaible’s simple text spans billions of years in a few dozen pages. The first half of the book prompts readers to consider the past, with the text on the verso stating what has already transpired. The second half of the book takes on the future and enlists readers directly through text on the recto. It asks them to consider where they think they will be tomorrow, next year, or even in a decade. Like a film that experiments with different aspect ratios, the illustrations’ sizes subtly contribute to the book’s mood. Billions of years in the past, the renderings are full-bleed spreads, wide and seemingly limitless. With each flip of the page, readers get closer to the present day. The images shrink. The white space around them grows. By the time the book arrives at “now,” the image is mere fraction of previous ones, conveying the tight immediacy of a single moment. Then there is a turning point. As the narrative points to the future, the images get gradually larger, and the white space smaller. The final image, like the first, spans to the very edge of the page, eliminating any margins. As the pictures grow, the possibilities seem infinite.
VERDICT An essential purchase, this is a must-read to share with children as they begin to ponder the infinite.—

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