Sunday, February 19, 2023

Today's read... Illusions in Art: Food by Chieu Anh Urban

Today, I have a read for the youngest readers out there, and one which centers around art. I was curious how the concepts of positive and negative space would be brought across, especially since this one is intended for the younger end. The cover already hints at the fun it might involve. So, let's just take a peek and find out! 

by Chieu Anh Urban
Candlewick Studio
Board Book
28 pages
ages 0 to 3


Don't let these illusions play tricks on your eyes! Find two foods on each page in a clever, stylish exploration of negative and positive space for the very young.

A twisty pretzel loops around and back.
What fruit is hidden inside this snack?

Look closely. What do you see? Could that be two orange slices tucked inside the curves of the pretzel? And what fruit is nestling inside a pitcher's handle? Or in the twist of a cupcake's frosting? Colorful spreads invite children in with a rhyme that contains a clue, while the bold, graphic design steers the eye to a negative space revealing a hidden familiar food. Black-and-white spreads at the end depict the same foods again, further clarifying the concept of positive and negative space. Fun and enticing for even the youngest children and a delight for art-oriented parents, this interactive seek-and-find book begs for many repeat sharings.



Art gains the atmosphere of a fun game as readers are introduced to the concept of negative and positive space.

This board book for the youngest readers takes a clever twist into the world of art. The illustrations are simple, exhibiting only two colors and very basic shapes of familiar objects, which fall into the theme of food. Readers see a main object (such as a pitcher) but if the look closely, they'll find the empty space (in this case, the handle) actually holds the shape of something else (here, a lemon). It creates a bit of find and search fun and has readers learning to switch their perspective to find both objects.

A short, rhyming text gives clues as to what the hidden object might be. The vocabulary used is simple, and the rhymes flow well. At the bottom corner of the page, the hidden object is stated in a lighter colored font. Some of the objects are easier to identify than others. I see this one better for ages 2 and up, since readers will have to recognize and identify objects clearly. Some of the objects might be a tiny bit more challenging, making this work even for those readers, who might be slightly older. 

At the very end of the book, the illustrations are presented quickly in black and white (and then, flipped to white and black). This will help young readers more readily identify the objects. I'm not sure they'll completely understand the entire idea of negative and positive space, but it does, at least, subtly introduce the basic idea behind the concepts in a playful way.

If nothing else, it is a cute searching and identifying fun. 

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