There’s a bit of a trend in publishing for children at present – the flip-over book. Think of it as ‘sliding doors’ for kids – simple stories told in different ways by flipping the book over and reading from the back or upside down. The appeal for children is obvious – they get to choose how the story is told.
The latest flip-over book I’ve discovered is Dot to Dot by Malcolm Cossons and magnificently illustrated by Neil Stevens.
It’s the story of a little girl called Dot. She lives in London and shares a birthday with her grandmother, who is also called Dot. All Little Dot wants for her birthday is to celebrate with Grandma Dot, who lives far away, in New York.
Little Dot decides to send her Grandma a special birthday card, but fearing the card won’t reach New York in time, she attempts to hand-deliver it (in all manner of inventive ways). Will the card make it in time?
Now flip the book over. On the other side of the world in New York, Grandma Dot decides to pay Little Dot a surprise visit in London. However, the flight takes her the long way round and she has to stop in Beijing, Mumbai and Rome – will she get to London in time for the birthday?
Despite being a simple and short story (or rather stories), Cossons manages to inject loads of imagination into Little Dot and Grandma Dot’s journeys. Little Dot tries steel springs to bounce across the ocean; asks birds and butterflies to help her fly; and digs a tunnel in her back garden. Meanwhile, Grandma Dot is stopping in exotic locations – the descriptions are brief but evocative –
“They danced at the Bollywood film studios, went to the bazaar then dashed to catch the plane…”
Accompanying this sweet story are illustrations by Neil Stevens. They are fittingly simple – the restrained colour palette (pale blue and rusty red) and generous white space is striking.
Dot to Dot is suitable for children aged three years and over. It’s available online from Readings for $16.95.