Reviewed by Charlotte Berry in SBR 2015:2
Review Section: Fiction - Children's, YA and Crossover
This whimsical voyage of exploration around the globe and into outer space and back combines the talents of author Ylva Karlsson and illustrator Emelie Östergren in their first literary and artistic collaboration.
This is a picture book aimed at three to six-year-olds, with very minimal text and richly detailed illustrations.Its starting point is the phrase ‘Here is...’ and a close-angle picture of a child sitting in a park holding a ladybird. As the pages turn, each successive image zooms out, first to the park, then to the town, countryside, ocean, earth, moon and eventually the solar system. The illustrations are based mainly on the green, brown, red and yellow spectrum while on earth, moving startlingly into black, yellow and blue in the centre pages, as earth is shown from afar.
Turn the book upside down, and you trace the journey back to earth, to another ocean, another town, another child in a park on the other side of the world. Or, if you prefer, you can start reading the book from the back, flip in the middle, and end up at the beginning! Children will love exploring each detailed image and spotting balloons, planes, boats, birds, houses and children all over the place.
Karlsson is an established children’s author; her first work, the Young Adult novel Tova, won the Slangbellan (Catapult) Prize in 1998. She has since written more teenage titles, while also establishing herself as a picture book author with her trilogy Malin (all published by Alfabeta). She was elected to the prestigious Swedish Academy for Children’s Books, holding a chair there from 2009 to 2012. This latest title is her fourth with Hippo Bokförlag, a small prizewinning press set up in 2011 by two former editors and specialising in children’s and YA literature.
Östergren is widely regarded as one of the new vanguard of innovative Swedish illustration. She has developed an avant-garde, experimental style, influenced by fantasy and surrealism. Since 2009 she has worked with adult and children’s titles and she has particular interests in the comic book genre, which is avidly read across all ages throughout Scandinavia. In this genre, her adult titles Evil Dress (2009), Mr Kenneth (2010), Mr Kenneth Dresses Up (2010) and The Duke and his Army: A Dream Revisited (2011) are already established as classics in Sweden and in the USA (Sanatorium Press).