Hello Loyal Readers! This week I’m gonna do something a little different—thought it still TECHNICALLY meets my guidelines—by reviewing a children’s book. I’ve got a reason for this, however, so stay tuned until the end to find out where I’m going with this (or skip ahead if you’re impatient).
The Numberlys is a kid’s book—we’re talking early readers: big letters, simple sentences, not more than twenty pages. But it tells the story of a group of friends who live in a literal by-the-numbers society in which alphabet does not exist and numbers are the only language.
Why I Picked It Up
I saw an ad at my local bookstore and was immediately drawn in by the cover art. The cover could be a painting alone, even with the title and authors written upon it. I particularly enjoyed the simultaneous simplicity of composition and high degree of detail. The cover communicated to me exactly what the book was about—five guys who have fun with numbers. But I also got a distinct Metropolis feel about it, which I thought was unique for a children’s book.
With only a handful of pages, I clearly read the book all the way through.
What I Like About It
I opened the book and the first thing I noticed was that the page orientation is “portrait,” not “landscape” like the cover—this meant that in order to read it I had to flip the book on its side and turn pages UP as I read! Most books have the same orientation as the cover art, and very few with this shape use “portrait” page orientation.
I realized that this was directly tied to the book’s main theme—thinking “outside the box.”
The next thing which struck me was the art—the illustrator takes full advantage of the nearly three foot by nine inch canvas. There is a wonderful sense of motion about each image, and of course, the Metropolis influences are present.
What Could Be Better, If Anything
I don’t typically read or critique children’s books, so I have little to say here: the plot is hardly original, but it is told in a new way. Apparently there is another book series called “The Numberlies” which predates this—thought the books have a very different art style and likely narrative focus.
One drawback to having a book with characters are appealing and iconic as this is that I’m sure there will be some derivative TV show or Movie soon to come. I only hope they stay true to the sense of the art and put in the effort needed to achieve—wait for it…
Unity of THEME!
What struck me most of all about this book is how effectively and efficiently it communicated its theme, “Thinking In New Ways:” From the attractive cover, we open the book and find we must change the way we look at it (turn it on its side), as we’re told a story about how five friends thought up something new, refined it, and gave it to the world. The rest of the book continues, challenging the reader to see things in a new light through a subtle combination of art and narrative.
And best of all it’s in a small package easily read by little readers.
Theme is an integral part of storytelling, and finding an effective way to communicate it is essential. Many people just use the words they write to communicate their ideas, but true masterpieces are created when you use every part of a work to convey your message—inside and out.
This is something I’m gonna try to keep in mind as I continue my own projects.
How do you communicate theme in your works? What are some of your favorite works which have a grand central theme?