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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Topsy-Turvies: Pictures to Stretch the Imagination: 03/12/18

Topsy-Turvies: Pictures to Stretch the Imagination

Topsy-Turvies: Pictures to Stretch the Imagination by Mitsumasa Anno is a wordless picture book about gnomes living in an Escheresque world. Purposely the explanations of what's going on in each illustration is left out, leaving it up to the reader to "stretch the imagination."

According to GoodReads, I was first interested in the book in the summer of 2016. Based on the date, I had just come back from a whirlwind road trip. I believe I heard about his books on one of the many lists suggesting math books for young children. Specifically they recommend Math Games and the Multiplying Jar.

I chose Topsy-Turvies for my own nostalgic reasons. When I was a child my grandparents would take me to the library for story time. While I didn't like sitting crisscross applesauce (as my kids call it), I did like being read to.

The one story time I remember best (which isn't very well at all nearly 40 years later) is one that was themed around optical illusions and color theory. Mitsumasa Anno's books, whether this one, or a different one, was probably among the lot read to us.

The frustrating thing about the story time was that I LOVED the books. I wanted to take them home and re-read them. But I couldn't remember what had been read to me. What I should have done (but I was young and at the time librarians were scary to me, except when reading books) was ask what books had been read. Or had my grandfather ask on my behalf. But I didn't.

Topsy-Turvies for the most part works. There is one page with a cutaway showing the inside of a farmhouse. Some of the gnomes are on the ceiling and some are not. It's otherwise a fairly normal looking scene. There's really nothing surreal about it. Nor was there any sort of discernible optical illusion.

Also none of the individual illustration seem to be tied together in a plot or theme — beyond gnomes in unreal spaces. In this regard the book falls short of its potential.

Three stars

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