Most of the Better Natural Things in the World

Most of the Better Natural Things in the World
Dave Eggers and Angel Chang
Chronicle Books

Stunningly illustrated, this book is really unusual.

The opening spread shows on a bleak STEPPE, an empty chair draped with coloured rope.

We then accompany a black and white tiger through a series of lush landscapes on a solitary journey that takes him with the chair now strapped to his back, through a gorge, a valley, across a plain, through a cloud forest,

past an atoll, an archipelago, an estuary, an oasis, a lagoon and an alpine lake. He climbs, strides, swings, swims, rows,

walks upright and on all fours; occasionally we see a white bird that may be travelling along too.

Pausing after the chaparral, the tiger puts down the chair and takes in the incredible vista. (shown in a double gatefold).
But where is the creature going and why the chair?

On he travels until finally after another pause to view the northern lights he arrives here:

This cleverly named ‘taiga’ destination reveals the purpose of all his travelling and there’s an empty place for one that has come so far.

We never lose interest in the tiger’s almost dreamlike journey thanks in no small part to the way each page turn reveals a different visual perspective.

The combination of Eggers’ minimal text  – a prose poem of sorts – and Angel Chang’s awesome art make for an exciting picture book that leaves much for readers to imagine and decide for themselves.

Tomorrow Most Likely

Tomorrow Most Likely
Dave Eggers and Lane Smith
Chronicle Books

Dave Eggers has penned rhyming ponderings upon the possibilities of what tomorrow might have in store. None of us knows what the next day will bring but Eggers’ likelihoods are safe, reassuring, sometimes weird like this something that won’t rhyme

and sometimes totally delightful: ‘Tomorrow most likely / there will be a sky / And chances are it will be blue.’ … ‘Tomorrow most likely / you’ll smell the good smell / of an unseen flower you can’t quite name.’ … ‘Tomorrow most likely / you’ll pick up a stone / striped like a spiderweb or maybe a brain.’

In this bedtime story, his laid back languorous, rhythmic textual repetition provides both comfort and cheer –seemingly spoken by the mother from the title page bidding her child goodnight and in so doing looking forward.

Lane Smith holds up a two-way mirror to Egger’s contemplations with his mixed media images of a boy heading out through the door to wander around his urban environment encountering such oddities as a troubled big-eyed bug missing his friend named Stu; or that curved-beaked creature sporting a paper-hat, as well as envisaging eccentricities like eating the cloud-cone as he pauses in a flower-filled patch of green and then, clutching the cone, sings atop a rocky tower;

and closing with the boy now sleeping, dreaming of tomorrow, happy in the belief that because he’s in it, it will be ‘a great day.’

Touches of whimsy abound in this detailed urban landscape especially for those who know how to look for the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.