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Black and White

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,445 ratings  ·  349 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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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Caldecott Medal Winners
50th out of 77 books — 282 voters
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry PinkneyWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakFlotsam by David WiesnerMadeline by Ludwig BemelmansMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
List for #nerdcott
102nd out of 327 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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...more
Josh Stoll
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...more
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.
Laura Noto
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...more
Karina Macias
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
“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
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...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...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.

"Black and White" by David Macauly is a postmodern book that has the traditional characteristics of the postmodern style. There are four stories in four frames. You can read in order or you can intermingle the stories. I believe that the little girl is the one telling the stories so they are seen through her eyes. I believe that she believes her parents are black or white so that is why we see black and white throughout the stories. She also sees that she is treated like cattle being herded by h...more
Christina Greenberg
Black and White by David Macaulay is a complex read. It appears as you read that there are two simultaneous yet separate stories going on throughout the entire book. At a first glance/read this book is very confusing. Are these stories intertwined? Are they four totally separate stories? About half way through my first read I had to start reading again because I lost my place and couldn't figure out what was going on. Going back and rereading this story is a must. As you go back again it is easi...more
Jimmy Reyes
Readers will be challenged from the start after coming across the red warning label explaining we should take careful inspection of both words and pictures. In the beginning of many picture books we are introduced to the main characters and step-by-step are led deeper into the story as the pages turn, however, Black and White jumps into not only one scene but a quadrant of four stories taken place in different settings. We see a different point of view when we enter the train scene with the youn...more
Jenna Kennedy
David Macaulay’s pot-modern picture book encompasses many different stories between the means of only two covers. From the idea of parents being weird, to being on a railway train, to the spots on the cows each story gives very different stories. It seems that the author is saying “attention please” to the reader through his unconventional type story book. The boy on the railway sees snow, and all the time the words of the boy turn into snow and falls as flakes of newspaper. From page to page, e...more
Kathryn Anne Russell
Black and White by David Macaulay tells four separate stories that intertwine to fit together. There are four separate pictures on each page that midway through the book start to fit together. The first story, “Seeing Things” is about a boy riding on a train by himself for the first time on the way to see his parents. It is night and he is sleeping when a strange old woman sits next to him and says nothing. The boy looks out the window and sees what he thinks are moving boulders. The readers see...more
Danielle Boles
This was not just one story, but four, told at the same time where each page was divided into four sections. The four stores include: a story about a young boy waiting for his parents, a boy waiting for his train ride to end, commuters waiting for a train, and the train waiting for some cows to get off of the tracks. They are all stories that have different styles of pictures so you can easily tell which section of the page goes with the next, but the author leaves it up to the reader to put the...more
Jazmin Maldonado
David Macaulay really makes the reader think with Black and White. As the reader, I had to read it like 4 times. Honestly my first impression was confusion. I was trying to tie them together as I read but it just seems to be more confusing and frustrating. Although I do not care much for the book the illustrations were great. I love the variety of the pictures. One scenario was an old western style,oil-painting kind of picture. Bordered with light olive color and circular. The Problem Parents wa...more
Cari Williams
Black and white tells four stories at once but them makes them one somehow. One story is about a boy and his family, another is about a boy riding a train, the third is about people standing at a train station, and the fourth is about a man talking about cows. I think the book was a little bit confusing and I had no idea of how to make sense of it until I got towards the end and realized that I could see how the stories fit together. I liked how the illustrations went from realistic to a little...more
Melody Wolen
Reading Level: 4th grade
This book was very strange to me. Throughout the story there seemed to be four different storylines going. In the middle they all seemed to blend together in such a way that it was difficult to understand what the book was about. There was a boy on a train, two brothers who wonder why their parents are acting so strange, people waiting on a train platform, and Holstein cows. Somehow all of these story lines connect. The illustrations were realistic and almost like picture...more
Janaee Cobbs
David Macaulay is the author of this book, “Black and White.” The orientation of the book is a large vertical looking rectangle. The cover of the book has four different colors: white, black, blue and green. It also blends the colors in the title of the book, “Black and White.” This book is being awarded with a Caldecott gold medal, which means this book is a winner during the time frame in the past to present. There is a warning box inside of the story before the readers start to read the story...more
Xochitl Rocha
Postmodern picture book that helped form Dr. Eliza Dresang's Radical Change theory.

Quite honestly David Macaulay’s Black and White blew me away, it is brilliant. I read this book several times and kept in mind the warning: “This book appears to contain a number of stories that do not necessarily occur at the same time. But it may contain only one story. Then again, there may be four stories. Or four parts of a story. Careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended” (Macaulay, 1990)...more
Stephanie Winchester
Black and White is a Caldecott award winner and a four part story written by David Macaulay. This book is broken into four distinct stories that are told simultaneously. One story is about a boy riding a train back to his parents, while another is about a commuters waiting for a train. Another section is about a boy’s parents who do not communicate effectively and the final story is about a herd of cows in the way of a moving train.

This was my least favorite Caldecott winner because of the comp...more
Jaycie Shearer
The pictures and text in this book make the story hard to follow along. However, the illustrations give both the real life and imaginary scenes a distinctive look. The black and white theme, contrasting with the colored scenes, give an appealing look to the book. The two scenes are completely different, but the author still incorporates the two together. The text explains it, but the visuals give the true image. These strategies encourage the reader no to look too deep into either the illustrati...more
Kyla Frey
While I found this story interesting because of the four stories combined, I found it very hard to follow. I understand that it is not a traditional book, but I don't expect many younger kids to be able to follow it without getting confused. I had to read it twice to understand what was going on. The nontraditional style of story is intriguing, but it just did not hit it for me. I would probably never bring this book into my classroom because I was not a fan in anyway.
One story was about cows an...more
Kelsey Hoban
I thought this book was so cool! It was one of the most complex picture book I have read. I thought it was very mature for a picture book though. This story brings together multiple characters into the same story and same message. It all has to do with a bunch of cows on the railroad blocking the train; the cows were set loose by a burglar. A boy in the living room tells the story but the story paints many different pictures of all the other characters and where they are. The illustrations in th...more
I think it was my third-grade teacher who introduced this book to us. My whole class puzzled and puzzled over what was going on. Just how are the stories connected? Utterly fascinating.
A book with four stories in one, or all one story. There are four different episodes. Illustrations are different in each episode and help move story along further.

Elayna Gilbert
This book was very confusing the first time i read it. If you don't know how to approach the pages it can get all jumbled up. The pages are interesting because they are broken into 4 different squares with a whole different story going on, but by the end it all pieces together. The little boy tells the story through his living room when he sets up a fort and talks about trains, his parents, the conductor and the people. The stories don't necessarily take time at the same time, but the end up bei...more
David Choquette
David Macaulay is a great explainer. His picture books “Castle”, “Cathedral”, and “City” introduced children to the meticulous and fascinating details of medieval architecture. His tome “The Way Things Work” dissected the intricacies of everyday objects from TVs to toasters. But Macaulay’s most celebrated work is one where he sought to befuddle instead of illuminate his readers. “Black and White”, winner of the 1990 Caldecott Medal for best illustrations, tells four stories all at once. Each two...more
4 separate stories it seems from the beginning, but the reader soon finds that really it is 4 different perspectives of the same story. Funny and creative. Must see!
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New Forms of the Novel for Young Readers 1 2 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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