I’m hanging out at the children’s section. It’s usually stuffed away in the back, no air circulation. Kids are whining or chasing each other all over. And all I’m trying to do is get my geek on, so I have a basic strategy for getting the most out of a bookstore visit. Since I am a very visual person, a typical book is usually judged in this order:
- By its spine art
- By its cover art
- By its title
- By a few page flips to see the illustration and some of the drama
Most books don’t get past step 4. Sometimes I’m on the fence at step 4. Recently I discovered 2 books that pleasantly surprised me, only because I decided to hop over the fence. One of them:
I actually bought a copy of the The Frank Show, by David Mackintosh, because I loved it so much. Of course the illustrations are lovable.The sketchy-scribbly-ness of the lines. The concerted use of flatness and texture. The clever uses of type. The simply executed expressions. I liked all of these at once. What bugged me, however, were the weird palette and the busy-ness against white of many of the scenes. All I kept thinking was: oh no this book is gonna give me a headache. I closed it. But the cover art just stared at me, all pretty. I’m a sucker for sparkly covers.
Once I actually sat down to read the story… I was captivated. I really fell for the character. I was right there with this boy every step of his agonizing way to show + tell day. I discovered successful pacing and page design. There was anticipation and anxiety at many page turns. What I loved the most was the humor I found here, nicely expressed in all of the above elements.
The quirky color choices and the busy-ness against white that drove me crazy at first, were basically history after I had finished, because it was a good story. Both the boy and his grandpa had clear character profiles. You knew their habits, their weaknesses, and you had hopes for them. At the end, when the punchline came, everything still stayed true to the character. Their transformation was especially satisfying because it was what I had been hoping for them at each page turn.
I also appreciated this story about the relationship between a kid and his grandpa because I am also trying to write a grandpa story. It gave me a new perspective I hadn’t considered.
Credits: Images were found at apartmenttherapy.com.