Black and White
Black and White

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Annotation: Four brief "stories" about parents, trains, and cows, or is it really all one story? The author recommends careful inspection of words and pictures to both minimize and enhance confusion.
Catalog Number: #31004
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 1990
Edition Date: 1990
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-618-63687-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-01136-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-618-63687-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-01136-6
Dewey: E
LCCN: 89028888
Dimensions: 31 cm.
Subject Heading:
Literary recreations.
Language: English
Horn Book
A picture book that toys with the reader as it experiments with the concept of time, simultaneity of events, and the question of one story impinging on another. A free-wheeling and free-spirited escape from the ordinary.
Publishers Weekly

"The magic of Black and White comes not from each [of the four stories], but from the mysterious interactions between them that creates a fifth story," said PW of this Caldecott Medal–winner. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* What's black and white and read all over? Macaulay's latest picture book. Though divided into four stories, which run consecutively, the book also dares its audience to see it all over, as a whole, rather than left to right, top to bottom, and page by page. And though the very title may suggest a back-to-basics approach to bookmaking, the words black and white appear in white, green, and blue on the black background of the dust jacket and in scarlet on the title page, belying the words themselves and reminding readers that few things in life are just black and white. As the book begins, a rotund convict escapes his prison, and the following message appears: WARNING: This book appears to contain a number of stories that do not necessarily occur at the same time. Then again, it may contain only one story. In any event, careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended. Thereafter, each double-page spread divides into four rectangular frames in which four tales unfold. With few exceptions, the vignettes stay within their frames, though elements of the stories coincide. Each tale continues through the book, building to a climax on a page without frames or color. Then the colors return for a quick denouement. Entitled Seeing Things, the first tale, with watercolor illustrations reminiscent of Edward Ardizzone, tells of a boy's overnight train trip, his first trip alone. A mysterious old woman (the convict in disguise) shares his compartment for a while, then disembarks. Cows block the tracks until the engineer chases them off. An apparent snowstorm becomes a shower of torn newspaper as the train draws into a station where oddly dressed people stand singing. Falling asleep, the boy later awakens to see his parents meeting his train. Problems, Parents, the second tale, in shaded sepia, black, and white, is a first-person account of a teenage girl who is sitting in the living room with her younger brother (who looks like the boy in the former tale, painted in a different style) when their parents arrive home from work in a frivolous, not to say batty, mood, wearing newsprint costumes over their clothes. As the narrator becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her parents' antics, the tone of the story becomes more frenzied, to great comic effect. Again, many visual details link up with other stories; for instance, the convict (bearing a striking resemblance to the family dog) appears on their television screen, and the parents' costumes and singing point to happenings on the railway platform in the third tale. The next story, A Waiting Game, done in line drawings washed with chalk-box colors, unfolds at a railway station where the train is unaccountably delayed and the waiting passengers react improbably by folding their newspapers into paper hats and costumes and bursting happily into song. Intermittent announcements over the loudspeakers supply the only text, a droll counterpoint to the giddy action. The final frame shows the convict on the platform, contentedly waving good-bye to the train. The fourth tale d the most enigmatic der Chaos, concerns a herd of Holstein cows who wander off the farm and into a choir festival, across a railroad track, and finally, back home to be milked. While the author nonchalantly asserts that the worst thing about Holstein cows is that if they ever get out of the field, they're almost impossible to find, the black-and-white garbed convict, hiding among the black-and-white cows, appears and disappears as the flat colors of the scenes involve readers in visual gestalt shifts. Mental shifts as well occur throughout the book as elements of one story cross into another but refuse to be pinned down into a simple narrative sequence. The more one looks, however, the more one finds and the more one becomes intrigued with what is happening. Rather like a dream in its interconnectedness instead of a conventional picture book with a clear beginning, middle, and end, this work engages another side of the mind. It's a story; it's a puzzle; it's a game. Like the escaped convict confidently romping through his illustrations, Macaulay refuses to be confined by the conventions of the picture book. Play is the wellspring of creativity, and Macaulay is playing with the form itself. Not everyone will appreciate that. However, for every child who's entertained by the individual parts (and irresistibly funny bits abound) but confused by the import of it all, there'll be another who sees its daft playfulness and recognizes a kindred spirit.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (4/1/90)
Caldecott Medal
Horn Book (4/1/90)
Publishers Weekly
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 1,032
Reading Level: 3.4
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 44136 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.3 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q01295
Lexile: 610L
Guided Reading Level: B
Fountas & Pinnell: B

Winner of the 1991 Caldecott Medal Four stories are told simultaneously, with each double-page spread divided into quadrants. The stories do not necessarily take place at the same moment in time, but are they really one story?

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