Friday, October 24, 2014

Round Trip by Ann Jonas - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

     I have a secret ambition. I want to illustrate. Or maybe secret isn't the right word because I just told everyone. Unattainable ambition would be closer to the truth. I can doodle and "copy" but the individual spark of genius that I see in some illustrators' work skipped my gene pool. And that's okay. I've got plenty of other attributes. But sometimes when I see a particularly stunning book, I feel that ache.
     Prepare to feel the ache.
     This week I'm sharing an older title that stands the test of time.

Title: Round Trip
Author/Illustrator: Ann Jonas (Ann died in 2013 but you can read a profile of  her here and one obituary in the School Library Journal here)
Publisher: Scholastic, 1983
Intended age: 5-8
Themes: Travel, city/country
Opening lines: "We started out as soon as it was light.
                       Our neighborhood was quiet, the houses dark."
Synopsis: The author/illustrator uses black and white silhouettes to tell the story of a family's trip to the city and back.

What I like about this book: I have read armloads of books about trips to the city or vice versa. What makes this book special? The silhouettes are cut so that you page through the book to the end--but it ISN'T the end. At page 32 you flip the open book 180 degrees and page back to the start. Reading the book upside down. With the same illustrations "working" in both directions. Yes, it's a little bit gimmicky but it's done so well that I don't care. And yes, there are a few spreads where the story feels "tweaked" to fit the illustrations. But again, I don't care. It's so much fun to read and look at how the images mesh! Like the optical illusion of the Rubin vase/lady (see the vase/lady here), your eyes see one thing at a time, even though the other image is obvious as soon as you flip the book over. And as a Kickstarter campaign participant, I love the fact that it was a Reading Rainbow book.

Resources: If you have a account you can access an author interview and teaching guide for this book. This book is used as a resource for a lesson plan integrating math and reading titled "Going on a Shape Hunt" posted by Liza Cranston on
     Although the copy I bought at a used book sale was published by Scholastic, it appears that Harper Collins also publishes it and you can see a sample of several pages here. Better to do this on a laptop where you can easily turn the images around than on a tabletop monitor! If you want to hear the whole book, head to Youtube!

    Talk with your children about a round trip-to school or to a grandparents house. Do you take the same route each direction? How is the trip each direction the same and different?
     Talk about what a silhouette is and then after dark get a flashlight and make shadow puppets. Cut out silhouette shapes and look at them from different directions.

Above all, HAVE FUN! This book ignites imagination.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

This book IS an old one. Have you read it? Let me know in your comments. :) There is no Perfect Picture Book Friday next week, but I hope you'll stop by to read my Halloweensie story!


  1. It sounds like this book ignites the imagination. Nice pick, Wendy!

    1. It certainly made me want to grab scissors and paper and really look at the shape of things.

  2. I think I will love this book from the sound of it. Good review Wendy. :)

    1. I hope you can find it. It is still being printed, but libraries may have taken it out of their collection (I imagine it will be well used/loved).

  3. What a very clever book. I'm surprised I haven't seen it before, because it was written just before my daughter was born. I love the silhouettes and how the book ends, but doesn't end. Will have to check this one out. Really great pick!

  4. Love books that teach kids to have another (good, long) look, Wendy. And this one is truly beautiful!

  5. Wow. Wow. Wow. Even pro illustrators might not have been able to pull this off! Cool! Thanks.

  6. I have to SEE this to truly get what I think is a very clever use of silhouettes.

  7. What a cleverly illustrated book, Wendy! I, too, would love to illustrate, but, unfortunately, never received my Dad's creative talent. So, I guess I'll have to concentrate on my writing, which I am more than happy to do!

  8. Very cleverly done this book. Thanks for a lovely review and video.

  9. Wow! What fun! Thanks for sharing!

  10. My favourite book ever.......
    I read this with every class I have ever taught and use it with teachers to show different points of view...