Along a Long Road one of the best picture books of 2011

December 3, 2011 at 7:40 am 1 comment

Along a Long Road written and illustrated by Frank Viva; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York; 2011.

NOTE: This review is based on a promotional copy provided for free by the publisher for an honest review.

Take a long ride up and down, in the country and through the city, going fast and going slow, sometimes stopping and always looking.  The story is simple and spare.  The illustrations (actually, one illustration, but more on that later) are deceptively simple.  Children will look for the smallest details in the pictures and that will help tell the story.

The illustrations were created on a computer as a single, continuous piece of art.  Were it to be printed as it was originally created, the illustration for the book would be 35 feet long!  For this reason, the continuity of the ride is impeccable.  The continuation of the road on the end pages offers an opportunity to discuss maps and travel with youngsters.  The limited palette keeps distractions to a minimum; the glossy yellow road is easy to follow from cover to cover.  So what makes this one of the best picture books of 2011?  IMHO, it’s the art.  This could easily be a wordless book and still have the same impact.  Combined, the words and pictures create a simple trip that tots will want to travel over and over.

Frank Viva’s trip provides opportunities to discuss new vocabulary with toddlers and preschoolers.  These words can be used on a walk or in the car for reinforcement.  Another reason to love the book!

At a mini-conference on story telling through the arts, Denise Fleming had us use large gestures to read aloud her book In the Tall, Tall Grass.  What a great way to engage listeners and reinforce vocabulary!  Viva’s Along a Long Road lends itself to the same read-aloud concept.  What a great addition to a librarian’s professional collection for story time (travel? bikes?  so many options).  I’d also use it in displays for summer reading.

Watch for this book to be on some awards lists!

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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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