Palazzo Inverso by D. B. Johnson

palazoo-inversoCindy: Lynn found this book, but I’m so excited about it I am scooping her on it. We usually play nicely together and allow the person who read the book first have the lead on the blog, but I’m not always nice. Palazzo Inverso (Houghton 2010) pays tribute to the tessellations and the optical illusion drawings of M. C. Escher. The tale of the building of a bizarre palazzo (palace) is told by a Master’s apprentice whose sole responsibility is sharpening his Master’s pencils. But after the building commences, strange features of the building come into focus. Things are not what they seem…or are more than they seem. Do winding staircases lead up…or down? Does gravity still work? The story is not over at book’s end, the reader must flip the book on its head and start reading it again from back to front as the story continues to unfold. Muted sepia tones keep the focus on the shapes and the theme of creativity. This book format reminded me of an earlier Ann Jonas’ black and white book called Round Trip (Greenwillow 1983) in which the illustrated scenes look different the second time through with the book turned upside down and read from back to front. Fans will also want to hit their libraries to find Mitsumasa Anno’s out of print book Topsy-Turvies: Pictures to Stretch the Imagination (Walker, 1970) that also incorporates Escher style into its impossible drawings.

Lynn: I knew when I saw this book that it had Cindy’s name written all over it 😉  I liked this but didn’t find it as fascinating as she did.  It is very clever and our focus group loved turning the book over and tracing the story backwards.  They spent a lot of time exploring the book and flipping back and forth.  I felt that the story took a back seat to the art making it slightly less successful for me but the boys didn’t mind that aspect at all.  The slightly out of focus art was less than pleasing for me as well but that may be that my aging eyes find lots of things slightly out of focus these days!  Take a look at this unusual book and tell us what you think!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Palazzo Inverso by D. B. Johnson"

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  1.' AZ says:

    Enjoyed this one too!

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