Review: Another by Christian Robinson
By Christian Robinson
Atheneum (Simon & Schuster)
You know, it’s funny. After seeing an artist’s work over the course of a few years, you think you have a pretty good sense of that artist, right? But what if that artist (in this case, multi-award winning illustrator, Christian Robinson) has only, until now, been showing us one aspect of his creativity? What happens when that artist shows us something else? In the case of Another, Christian Robinson’s author/illustrator debut, we see the artist surprising us with a combination of the beautifully familiar and invitingly otherworldly.
Nighttime. A girl sleeps peacefully in her bed, a red-collared cat rests on top of the sheet. Suddenly, a portal opens up, revealing a nearly identical cat. This blue-collar-wearing cat steps out of the portal and snatches a toy mouse. The red-collared cat gives chase, waking the girl and beginning an unusual adventure through an alternate dimension. A dimension where up is down and down sideways, and where the girl comes face to face with . . . herself. What will the girl do? And how will she and her cat get home?
The worldless story unfolds like an animated short, which makes sense, given Robinson’s Sesame Street background. But Robinson never forgets that this is a book as he plays with interesting page turns both subtle (as in the beginning of the story, where small changes to the scene tell a lot) and shocking (as in the middle section, where gravity seems to shift on every page).
While the sci-fi story surprises, Robinson’s art is what makes the whole thing work. Bold. Colorful. Child like. Robinson’s paint and collage illustrations, as always, bring joy to the proceedings.
I came in expecting a small story with heart. I didn’t expect a meditation on the space-time continuum. And I REALLY didn’t expect a small story about the space-time continuum with heart. But that’s what we have here. Welcoming and challenging at once – is there anything better? One of my favorite picture books of the year.
Review copy from the publisher.
Watch the book trailer for Another:
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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