Who Was That?

Who Was That?
Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books

That Olivier Tallec is a genius in seemingly effortless characterisation was evident in Who Done It? and Who What Where? Now he follows with another equally wonderful memory and observation testing offering, this time making clever use of occasional die-cut holes in the long, narrow pages.

If you ever thought looking and seeing were one and the same, think again.

We begin with a spread that introduces a mix of animal and human characters with a child inviting readers to ‘Blow out the candle and turn the page.’
Having plunged them into darkness we’re then asked ‘Who is wearing a yellow scarf?’

The answer to the question ‘What is Olive afraid of?’ on the next spread, is revealed by turning the die-cut page, but then another tester greets us concerning the colour of Oliver’s undies.

The questions are totally unpredictable as for example when we’re instructed to cover a character standing on a diving board and then asked how many teeth he has.

Sometimes there’s a tricky double poser as when the first question asks ‘Which of these friends likes sleeping on both ends of the bed? You think ‘no problem’ but when you turn over you’re faced with ‘But who wasn’t wearing pyjamas?’ Hmm.
The illustrative details are enormous fun in themselves, take this line up here: every one of the characters must surely have a myriad of stories to tell …

The final scenario is a knockout – literally –it’s as well the archers are using sucker-tipped arrows …

as we discover when the die-cut page is flipped to reveal …

Enormous fun and if you can’t solve the posers, there’s a final visual answer page.

I envisage children inventing their own tricky questions once they’ve solved the posers herein; the potential is huge. Some slightly older readers might even try making their own books along similar lines.

I’ve signed the charter  

Flip Flap Pop-Ups & Who What Where?

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This Or That?
Delphine Chedru
Can You Keep a Straight Face?
Elisa Géhin
What’s Up?
Olivia Cosneau
Thames & Hudson
All three of these playfully interactive little ‘Flip Flap Pop-Up’ books have amazing paper engineering by Bernard Duisit and each is likely to bring countless hours of delight to small children who will adore pulling and pushing the tabs and turning the wheels therein. (So too will the adults who might feel the need to demonstrate the various mechanisms!)
Differently themed and differently authored, a treat awaits at every turn of the page and flick of the hand:
Can You Keep a Straight Face? asks the book’s author. I doubt it, as all manner of odd things happen when you manipulate the tabs and wheels on each spread – magical fun of the face contortion kind. Prepare to be amazed.

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This or That? presents a varied (and sometimes difficult) array of choices to respond to, all introduced by, ‘Which is better?’ Chocolate or vanilla ice-cream? No competition here: I’d choose this one every time.

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What about the pet question though – in reality I tend to avoid both cats and dogs! I have issues with both.

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But I especially like the final togetherness spread. If I had to choose a favourite (I love all three books), I think it would have to be …
What’s Up? which introduces various birds from the tiny Robin Redbreast (he almost launches himself from the page) …

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to the flambouyant ‘proud peacock’ …

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What a tail! Cool stuff!

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Who What Where?
Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books
This is a deliciously playful follow up to Tallec’s Who Done It? And again it’s one where close observation is required to answer the question posed at the top of each page along with a visual of the situation. Four, or sometimes five suspects then form an ID parade on the adjoining, lower page with clues to assist youngsters identify the culprit. Here’s an example …

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Who has left a jacket at home?
Every spread is populated by delightful characters – animal and human – each beautifully detailed and rendered in pencil and acrylics and some require a bit more puzzling than others. How do you find this one :

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They’re all sporting blue so colour isn’t very helpful although we can eliminate the character with a gift. Another clue is needed: a blue face, yes but look at the eye reflected. Is it surrounded by black skin? No. So we can rule out number two and five. Where’s the black dot on the eye in the mirror – central or not? Now you’ve got it …
There seems to be something not quite right in this scenario though:

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Who got stuck in the tree trunk? we’re asked. Now take a look at the protruding feet – which way are they pointing – in or out? Now look at the girth of the upside down character: rather stout, yes? So I can’t see the last two becoming stuck so that leaves the first two – both pretty chunky but foot size leads us to suspect number two in the line up and bingo! That’s correct but then why are his feet pointing outwards at the top and inwards in the line up? OOPS!
Youngsters applying their developing logic to this one might well feel somewhat puzzled – I was!
All in all though, terrific fun.

Identity Puzzles: My Wild Family/Who Done it?

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My Wild Family
Laurent Moreau
Chronicle Books
On outsized pages, through a first person narrative, readers are introduced to all manner of family members and finally, as she calls herself, the ‘unique’ female narrator.
I have a very special family” we are told on the opening spread and assuredly that is true for the girl then goes on to show each family member as a wild animal. Her older brother is ‘strong and respected’; her younger brother in contrast is ‘flighty and a dreamer, his head often in the clouds.’ Unsurprisingly he’s also an excellent singer.

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Sweet and generous’ her grandmother likes to stay at home whereas her aunt ‘always perfectly primped, never leaves the house without looking her best.’

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The animals themselves are never named; you have to look carefully at the respective scenes – a classroom, busy street, sandy beach, a shopping centre for instance, to discover which one each person is portrayed as.
Friends too get the ‘treatment’: her best female friend ‘makes the best scary faces’

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and, to outrun her record-breaking runner, best male pal, would be well nigh impossible – unless that is, you were another member of the same species.
Audiences will delight in hearing the narrator’s family story and if mine are anything to go by, will be inspired to think about themselves, their own personality traits and those of their families in animal terms. (A lead into the Phillip Pullman daemon idea perhaps.)
Below are two from children I know…

Gracie thought about her younger brother thus

and …

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James’ brother is often very amusing …

The retro-modern illustrations have just the right amount of detail and I particularly like the judicious use of red outlines that give an added dimension to the scenes. For sheer energy, my favourite has to be that ‘Cousins’ ‘scene

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and here the text does actually spill the beans as to the animal identity.
The whole thing is imaginative, funny and splendidly thought- and talk-provoking.

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Who Done It?
Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books
The title question is not one of the twelve posed to young children as they work their way through this unusual shaped book. With his minimalist, not quite static art work, Tallec proffers, all manner of amusing scenarios, interrogating a delightful line-up of characters – human and animal – with such as Who forgot a swimsuit? , Who ate all the jam?

 

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And, the funniest and favourite with my testers, ‘Who couldn’t hold it? ‘ has a delicious degree of ambiguity but that’s half the fun of the whole thing.

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The same is true of the jam spread. Number one suspect is the jam-spattered fox; but equally the dark haired boy has an enormous grin across his face and the rabbit looks decidedly as if he could throw up at any moment. For those who require certainties, the final page supplies all the ‘correct’ answers.
The allure of this one is great and the promise holds good throughout. Every delightful double spread sets the scene for the development of talk and imaginative storying, culminating in what is probably the most tricky poser of all to decide: Who is in disguise?

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The book’s probably best shared with small groups or individually; and in addition, the predictable nature of the text makes this a good bet for beginning readers.

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