Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > Along a Long Road

Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
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Sep 27, 11

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It’s not about the destination — it’s all about the journey in this captivating story of a man on his bicycle. We follow him as he rides up hills and down, into tunnels and out, over bridges and along city streets. Going fast, going slow, he grinds to a sudden stop, then he’s off again, his posture shifting as the terrain changes.

The twisty-turny road takes him past fields, towns, amusement parks and seasides. And the passing landscape holds all sorts of surprises. Is that a whale or a person spouting water in the ocean? Is that someone sitting on top of a goalpost in a faraway sports field? How many different kinds of boats and vehicles can you spot?

Readers will not be able to resist touching the shiny, caramelcoloured road that runs (in raised ink) across every page in this book. The artwork was, in fact, originally created as a single, continuous, 35-foot-long panel, and its sense of forward motion is very much alive on these pages.

The minimalist text moves the story along, featuring lots of opposites, word play (“Along a long road”… “Around a round bend”…), some counting and plenty of repetition to encourage word recognition in pre-readers.

Artist Frank Viva’s award-winning work has appeared, among other places, on the cover of The New Yorker magazine. His sleek, stylized illustrations and a muted colour scheme give this book an unusual vintage look that may not appeal to everyone, but those who delve into its pages will not be unrewarded.

Along a Long Road gives young readers an opportunity to broaden their visual literacy while furthering their reading skills.

Reviewed by Darby Macnab in Canadian Children's Book News (Summer 2011, Vol. 34, No. 3)
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