We got our books! Yay! But while I was waiting I couldn't help reading something else. 

Ballad by Blexbolex

This is such an interesting little book. I picked it up at the library knowing nothing about it and brought it home with me. It is small, about as tall as my hand is long, but it is thick and the illustrations are fascinating. The text is spare, and a brief explanation begins the book:

"This story is about a child who goes home from school along the same road every day and how his small world suddenly becomes enormous.
It's a story as old as the world a story that begins all over again each day."
Thereafter the book is mostly illustration, with one word on each page. The same basic journey is depicted several times, but each time more illustrations, words, and layers of detail are added. Reading the summary on Goodreads, I found out that the story is told 7 times, and each time the number of images doubles. So the first pass is just beginning, middle, end. The second pass at the story has six pictures, and so on and so forth. I  mean, I knew that was sort of happening but I hadn't put my finger on the doubling thing.

Reading Ballad is kind of like watching a silent film: it requires more effort from you and more close engagement with the visual medium than the typical graphic novel experience (which might be like watching a typical movie).  A word draws your attention to something specific on the page, and the story is largely left up to your imagination. For instance, we're walking along, going home from school, if we believe the introduction above, and then all of a sudden there are bandits! Bandits?! How did they get there? Are they the comical type or the nefarious kind? We sort of get to decide these things. Some things are decided for us as the story progresses.

It was interesting trying to read this with Levi, my 3-year-old. (I haven't tried it on Benjamin yet.) I found it absolutely impossible not to elaborate on the text, because that is what my mind was doing. He and I read it about halfway through before he moved on to something else, and I came back and re-read and finished it later.  

The art is totally awesome. It's characterized by flat, blocky shapes but turns out to be progressively complex and deceptively detailed.

Aha! Jacob has read it while I was writing this. It was so fun to listen to his exclamations. His final thought: "It does a good job of setting things up, making you wonder where it could even go, and then subverting your expectations quite drastically. I like it!"

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