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Review of Red Again

Red Again
by Barbara Lehman; illus. by the author
Primary    Houghton    32 pp.    g
11/17    978-0-544-81859-0    $16.99

Lehman picks up where The Red Book (rev. 9/04) ends — and begins — in this wordless, surreal tale. After a red book falls from the snowy sky, a brown-skinned young cyclist wearing glasses discovers it in a city street and retreats to a cupola that overlooks the sea. Examining the book’s art, the bespectacled child notices an illustration of another child fishing in a boat off the coast of an unnamed island. Zooming in, the first charcter sees an image of a familiar red book floating in the water. When the second child, shown in the picture, opens the book, the original city, cupola, and kid from the first book come into view. The two children see each other in each of their book’s pages, and as they look out, they break the fourth wall to engage the reader. After the child in the boat hatches a plan (and gets a lift to the city from a pelican), the children are united in real life. Their mysterious red books (or are they the same book?) are left behind, waiting for new discoverers — as in the first Red Book. Lehman’s watercolor, gouache, and ink illustrations are clear, warm, and inviting. Varying panel sizes and perspectives pace the story, drawing attention to the narrative’s subtle complexity. At times, objects break from their panels, adding to the visual puzzle. The almost-all-red cover echoes the characters’ own red books, affording readers an opportunity to ponder the story’s mystery and their potential connections to it.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is the Youth Collection Development Librarian at the Deerfield Public Library in Illinois.

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