Some children’s books deserve to be displayed, not only in the children’s room of the library, but also in the art gallery. Along a Long Road by Frank Viva (J-P V83a) is such a book. Viva, whose illustrations have appeared on the cover of the New Yorker, made an impression with this, his debut children’s book. The narrative is sparse, but the pages fill with the playful roundness of the words he chooses. Even the title “along a long road” rings with a sing-song sound that comes out differently each time you say it.
Sticking to a retro palette of primary colors, black, and white, Viva’s illustrations are stark. Yet each page rewards the careful observer with figures and scenes that invite stories yet to be imagined. Viva’s artistic method is also intriguing. According to the publisher, Along a Long Road “was created as a single, continuous thirty-five foot long piece of art.” One imagines that viewing the book in this way, as one continuous road, would be truly impressive. Would you be tempted to step into the road, hop on your bicycle, and pedal away? I would.