Monday, March 19, 2012

Book #79: Along a Long Road by Frank Viva

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A man riding a bicycle makes his way along a long road in this visually stunning book. He bikes past stores and towns, over bridges and through tunnels, as he follows the golden road. Even a small bump in the road isn’t enough to keep him off the road for long. At the end of the book he makes it back to his starting point and begins his circuit again.

The text is minimal; there is no dialogue, just description of the ride, “Into / a tunnel / And / out.” The emphasis is on the smart illustrations done in Viva’s signature style. Viva is known for his illustration and graphic design work for The New Yorker and other magazines and newspapers. Although the color palate contains only blue, white, black, red, and yellow, the illustrations don’t feel limited or confined in any way. In addition, if you were to line up all the pages in order the road would connect and show the bicyclist’s entire journey!

This book will appeal to kids who love Go, Dogs, Go! Both books explore similar concepts - In and Out, Up and Down, Over and Through - although Along a Long Road has much less text and therefore doesn’t go into quite as much detail. However, that makes it easier to read to children with shorter attention spans. It's a quick read, nice if you need to occupy a child for less than 5 minutes.

Include this book in a storytime about bicycles or transportation and follow it up with some rhymes and songs. Try Ride, Ride,Ride Your Bike (to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat), The Wheels on the Bike and Zoom Down the Freeway.

The publisher Little, Brown and Company provides a lovely educators guide that includes ideas for extending the book into lessons on writing, science, social studies, and other areas for children ages 3-6.


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