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Black and White

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,289 Ratings  ·  466 Reviews
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?
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 24th 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Robb Terranova (aka Robb Michael G)
I'm surprised by the number of low ratings for this book. I think that may be because it's not a traditional book. It's quite a complicated little book with four (or more) stories linked (perhaps) in some way other than sequential (perhaps).

Commuters are waiting for a train. A boy is waiting for his parents. Another boy is waiting for his train ride to end. The train is waiting for some cows to get off the tracks so it can be on its way.

The problem for most readers is, I think, that each part
Josh Stoll
Apr 15, 2010 Josh Stoll rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly intricate and complicated story about four different things-- a train, a boy, his parents, and cows. But there is an overarching story that connects them altogether in a very subtle way that really shows what picture books are capable of doing.
Impatient commuter wait for a train. A boy attempts to communicate with his parents. Commuters wait for a delayed train. And holstein cows, notoriously hard to see in the field, block a train.
Boy: An imaginative boy
Eleanor McMullon
Nov 24, 2015 Eleanor McMullon rated it it was amazing
At first we were confused as to how to read this book. The challenge came when we initially thought the story was made up of four separate stories on one page. We began by starting with the top left 'story' as his follows the typical structure of a book that we are familiar with. Once we started reading, we began to see links between the pictures on a page and had to stop reading many times in order to make these links explicit and to eventually reach an understanding of the entire story as a wh ...more
David Macauly, with his 1990 Caldecott Medal-winning book 'Black and White', no doubt turned the picture book industry on its ear when it came to light nearly a quarter century ago. At first glance, this clever and off-beat book seems to house four different stories- each moved forward across two adjacent, side-by-side pages divided into quadrants. The pictures that accompany each of these unfolding stories couldn't be more different- one is presented as a circular swirl of earth-tone colors on ...more
Amy Ingle
Aug 01, 2015 Amy Ingle rated it it was amazing
This illustrated children's book has thrown me for a loop. I am still thinking about it hours after reading it, and am amazed at its brilliance. It's a 4 part story with stories within the story that parallel and interweave in ways that make your mind bend. Sound interesting? It is the only book I've ever seen like it, but I wish I could find more!
Anna Laskownicka
Jun 01, 2015 Anna Laskownicka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
'Black and White' is definitely a tough one!
This book contains four stories which happen simultaneously from page to page. On the face of it, they do not seem to be related in any way, nevertheless close reading allow to see some connection between them.

I must admit that as far as I believe this idea to be brilliant, it is actually pretty difficult to get the grasp of this book after reading it only once. For me this is both advantage and disadvantage of 'Black and White'.

On the one hand, this
Aug 31, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
“Black and White” by David Macaulay was something out of the ordinary. It wasn’t anything I expected it to be. I was curious about the title because “Black and White” could mean anything and could be about anything. I was interested to see that it started at four different stories going on. Each story has a different style of visuals. The pictures look completely different and the fonts changed as well. The individual stories made me smile and laugh a lot because I thought each of them were hila ...more
Dec 05, 2009 earthy rated it liked it
Four seemingly unrelated stories unfold simultaneously: a boy rides home on a train; two kids' parents start acting strangely; a group of professionals waits at a train stop; and a criminal gets caught up with an unruly herd of cows.

Each story is told with a different art and narrative style. The boy-on-the-train portion is told with small, circular watercolor scenes; the kids and parents story is in sepia tone, looking like a realistic graphic novel; the train station story is colorful, realist
Mateusz Pilas
Jun 08, 2015 Mateusz Pilas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
At the beginning of the book the author warns us: "This book appears to contain a number of stories that do not necessarily occur at the same time." Then you are given various clues. It might contain more than one story, or it might be four stories, or then again, four parts of one story. "Careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended." You will be like a detective, trying to piece together all clues in order to uncover the truth. Each page is divided into four stories. Each story ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Dolly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a bizarre story, but the illustrations are fascinating. Not sure if I completely understand it, let alone our girls...

Our youngest borrowed this book from her elementary school library on 27 October 2011 and we read it again together. It was an interesting tale, but I still don't know if I like it.
Apr 02, 2010 katsok rated it really liked it
Can't really figure out this book. Four separate stories which can be one story? I can get three of the stories to go together but for the life of me, I can't figure out how the one in the bottom left meshes in. Interesting read.
May 14, 2015 Beatus rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
“Black and White” by David Macaulay is an extremely ambiguous picture book. First of all, there is the intriguing title that suggests.. well basically nothing concrete. Then, we see four stories which, although are presented at the same time, seem to be separate. However, the first impression may be misleading: the stories connect in various ways. The task of a reader is to use the imagination to find these connections. Indeed, this book encourages creative thinking.
Macaulay took care of the sma
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Caldecott Winner 1991 - Some books are just beyond me. Brilliant concept but I need a tutorial.
Laura Noto
Oct 04, 2009 Laura Noto rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Black and White is a picture book meant for older readers from 5th grade and up. There is a disclaimer in the beginning of the story that says, “Careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended.” Black and White contains 4 different stories that all progress simultaneously. They connect in various ways including newspapers, cows, trains, and the colors black and white. Things happen in the stories that somehow link them together. “Seeing Things,” is the first story about a bo
Karina Macias
Sep 07, 2011 Karina Macias rated it it was ok
Black and White by David Macaulay is definitely interesting. I read it with my younger sister and we both were a little confused as we read it aloud. There are four mini stories on each page that later you find connect with one another. It's a good concept, but I don't think it was well done. Having some of the pictures connect with each other helps a little but other than that, I was confused for half the story. Maybe I was so confused because I expected the book to be about something that is b ...more
Postmodernism style of illustration.
Seriously, this book was so hard to explain to my small group that I have cheated completely, and am including a review by Publisher's Weekly. But I think this is an excellent, excellent book to give to the more advanced readers in 3rd grade and 4th. This can be used into high school.
I think what is going on in this book is so given to interpretation. Once I got used to it, I really delighted in seeing the connections between the four stories as well as th
Kayla Barker
Apr 18, 2016 Kayla Barker rated it really liked it
Shelves: wow-book
This book was amazing. I was reluctant to read it because it seemed a little strange and I like more traditional picture books. After reading this, I read it two more times, and each time I made more connections between the different stories inside the book and differences as well. There were four mini stories inside this book all happening at once and all have connections but it really is about what you see and what you think. It would be so great to read in a upper elementary classroom to see ...more
Klaudia Maniakowska
May 05, 2015 Klaudia Maniakowska rated it it was amazing
Although the title suggests that everything is going to be clear inside, you will be surprised how much messy the inside is. David Macaulay does a great job by showing four stores at the same time, where each story is illustrated using different type of technique. At first all the stories seem disconnected, but after re-reading the book one may discover some small hints that would certainly give you a sense of connection. I appreciate the fact that Macaulay makes his readers puzzled and confused ...more
Adam Chmielowiec
Jun 07, 2015 Adam Chmielowiec rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A surrealist story without much sense that deserves much recognition for its format. Since these are basically four separate stories compressed into a single picture book, you are getting four times more than you would if you chose other, conservative type format of a picture book. The stories loosely intertwine in a fashion that encourages the reader's sense of wonder, and makes him look for connections between the stories, even if there are none. Worth taking look at as an example of a very no ...more
Zoe Rawlings
Apr 16, 2016 Zoe Rawlings rated it really liked it
At first we were confused as to how to read this book. The challenge came when we initially thought the story was made up of four separate stories on one page. We began by starting with the top left 'story' as his follows the typical structure of a book that we are familiar with. Once we started reading, we began to see links between the pictures on a page and had to stop reading many times in order to make these links explicit and to eventually reach an understanding of the entire story as a wh ...more
Believe it or not, I actually followed all the book--and knew how all of it was connected before I was a couple of pages into it. I enjoyed reading the 4 separate stories while still seeing how they all overlapped. I liked the different illustration styles and font types. I loved some of the smaller things that you have ot pick up on yourself. I especially loved the squirrel. So though it isn't an amazing story, I have to rate it as high as I do because of the format, layout, set-up, etc.

Rosie Sanchez
APA: Macaulay, D. (1990). Black and white. Boston, MASS: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Carolyn Phelan from Booklist (1990) states, “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
Misty Jimenez
May 01, 2016 Misty Jimenez rated it really liked it
Book Title: Black and White

APA Citation: Macaulay, D. (1990). Black and white. Boston: Houghton.

Original Review: Black and White by David Macaulay is a unique tale of four different points of view all related to the same story. The first is about a boy riding a train who is delayed by some blockage on the train tracks. The boy describes his surroundings as he approaches the train station and notices an unusual sight of floating paper at the train station where he eventually finds his parents eag
Brittany Trinh
Apr 27, 2016 Brittany Trinh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project-1
Macaulay, D. (1990). Black and white. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Mary M. Burns from Horn Book Magazine (1990) says:
“This picture book toys with the reader just as it experiments with the concept of time, simultaneity of events, and the question of one story impinging on another. The author-artist has created an addictive puzzler which can, like a Nintendo game, draw a susceptible audience into an endless exploration of the book's many possibilities. The story — or stories, depending upo
Mar 15, 2016 Jacklyn rated it it was amazing
Black and White consists of four mini stories that don’t necessary happen at the same time. However, the readers will find that the four stories are interrelated. The cover caught my attention at first with slanted and bold typography, with a slash of white flying across the cover, it looks like an opening of a suspense movie. The title page is also very interesting, it has a warning that readers should inspect carefully of words and picture to comprehend the stories. In the background there is ...more
Dariana Carlon
Feb 18, 2016 Dariana Carlon rated it really liked it
"Black and White" contains four stories in the book. Each double-page spread is divided into four quadrants. There is really no telling whether the four stories are all one story or if they are there own separate story. There really is not a particular way to read this book. Each reader would be the one to decide how the book is read. Each reader may have a different perspective about the book. It really makes the reader think about how it is read.

This book defiantly is postmodern. The story org
Payton Hiscok
Feb 18, 2016 Payton Hiscok rated it liked it
This is a very unique book in that it contains four different, yet intertwined, stories each in a separate quadrant of the page. There is a boy on a train that is delayed due to cattle on the tracks, people waiting at the train station who end up having a fun time with newspaper, a brother and sister dealing with negligent parents, and a burglar who releases a heard of cattle. As the stories unfold it becomes more and more clear how they all fit together. So while this is a picture book meant fo ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Elise rated it really liked it
The story Black and White by David Macaulay is like no other story I have ever read before. This book is comprised of four different stories that all connect to each other in some way. The first story is called Seeing Things and it is about a boy who is on a train trip to see his parents. He grows impatient when the tracks are blocked with what he thinks are boulders, but are actually cows. The next story is called Problem Parents. This story is about the relationship between parents and their t ...more
Vivika Contreras
Feb 13, 2016 Vivika Contreras rated it it was amazing
Do you read this book as one story? Two? Four? This book is very intricate and complicated but if you can wrap your head around the challenges this book presents, its a great read! It contain what seems like 4 different stories, 2 on each page. The story lines don't necessarily connect, they range from a boy on a train to see his parents, passengers awaiting a train at a station, cows who aren nearly impossible to find, and the last story being a boy parents who are acting a little strange one e ...more
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New Forms of the Novel for Young Readers 1 3 Apr 10, 2012 04:22PM  
MCC Children's Li...: black and white 1 1 Apr 04, 2012 12:15PM  
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David Macaulay, born in 1946, was eleven when his parents moved from England to Bloomfield, New Jersey. He found himself having to adjust from an idyllic English childhood to life in a fast paced American city. During this time he began to draw seriously, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After spending his fifth year at RISD in Rome on ...more
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