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Ballad by Blexbolex
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Ballad: 12/12/14

cover art

Ballad by Blexbolex is one of those books that's hard to pin down. For the purpose of the CYBILs, it is a graphic novel but that's merely a way of saying it's mostly illustrations and it's longer than a picture book.

But it's really more an art piece, an experiment in narrative structure, if you will. At it's most basic level, it's about a journey from home, to school and back again. But this story is told multiple times. Each time it's retold it becomes more complicated and more magical.

Looking beyond the initial story, it's also the tale of The Bandits. They look a bit like the Fox and Cat from Pinocchio and they appear throughout the book doing nefarious things. No matter what it is they are doing, they are listed simply as "The Bandits"

Along with the ever changing story is the ever changing text. The text being just a pair of words per page (usually an article and a noun), rendered in an a looping script, takes on the form of the story. When magic mysteriously turns the town upside down, the text too is inverted. When things are tossed about willy nilly, so are the letters. When things vanish, so does the text.

For an adult, Ballad is a fairly easy read — though one should take time to ponder how the story is told. For younger readers, the script might be difficult. For my daughter who is just now learning how to write and read cursive, Ballad's plot seemed secondary to the the emphasis it puts on testing readers on their ability to read cursive.

Four stars

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