The Listzs

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The Liszts
Kyo Maclear and Júlia Sardà
Andersen Press
Are you a list maker? There’s something satisfying about lists, especially lists of things to do, and in particular, the crossing off part. That was the part my favourite literary list-maker, Toad in Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Together liked most too. In fact he couldn’t function properly without his ‘list of things to do today’.
A whole family of list makers populates this wryly whimsical book and they’re called, unsurprisingly, the Listzs. There’s Mum and Dad who make lists all year round, Sundays excluded; on such days they’re um, listless. Youngest child Frederick is a ‘list of fun things to do’ maker whereas big sister Winifred’s lists feature top tens and middle child Edward is a nocturnal list maker. Not wishing to be left out, Grandpa too makes lists – ‘his greatest admirers and most fearsome enemies’; even the cat’s a list maker.
Then one day a visitor arrives; nobody wants to engage with him – he’s not on their lists –

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until he comes upon Edward. He has a list of questions and what’s more, he’s the one who’d left the door open and is ready to admit it too. “The door was open,” says the visitor. “I know. I left it open. …” comes the reply. “For me?” – that’s the visitor. Edward thinks so. The two exchange questions, which leads to more exciting outcomes …

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Hurray for spontaneity and the possibility of something unexpected turning up.
With a quirky gothic feel to it, this near nonsensical tale is likely to appeal to adults as much as children. Visual humour abounds in the suitably dreary-hued illustrations: look at this scene with the family spending a restful Sunday.

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This is illustrator Júlia Saradà’s debut picture book: her illustrations herein reminded me very much of the work of Edward Gorey’s witty style. I look forward with interest to seeing what comes next.

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