Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems

Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books for Children, 2021. 9781368070973

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? Mo Willems is a genius. He just is. In this simple “picture book” he has taken the complex themes and structures of showing emotion and creating concepts in graphic art and whittled them down to their core. It is such a visual book that my words are not going to be able to do it justice SO go find it and look at it! The beginning end paper has a simple statement – “This is starting” and then shows a white square where we can see that there are some beginning brush strokes in grays, blue and black. Each page from that point forward has another square where another graphic concept is explored. A few pages later light, fluffy, colorful blobs ask, “Is this soft?” Many, many rectangles fill the next page’s square and question, “Is this inclusion?” while a small, dark square within a square, huddles in a corner and asks, “Is this exclusion?”. Curvy contours of blue, gray, white and purple inquire, “Is this calm?” while bursts of color and angles want to know, “Is this excited?” How can a book that is so simple be so complex? Explore it with your favorite artist.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No. It blew me away

To whom would you recommend this book?  Anyone but particularly anyone who is interested in art, graphic design and visual studies. Interestingly, the book also has a story arc that although not explicit can be felt when read aloud to kids. Pair this with Molly Bang’s classic Picture This: How Picture Work.

Who should buy this book? Artists, art teachers, elementary through high schools, public libraries, museum gift shops etc.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books or with non-fiction books about art and design (745.64)

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, and read it with a friend so you can point out the stunningly interesting pieces and parts.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Pam WattsFlavin, Head of Children’s Services, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 21, 2021

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