When I was looking for picture books to read, I went searching for things that I had never read and that looked interesting. I thought the book Black and White by David Macaulay fit those criteria perfectly. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1991, so it had to be great right? It might be wonderful, but I just don't get it.
The book has 4 different stories taking place at the same time. Each story has its own plot, characters, and illustrations. The first story "Seeing Things" takes place in the upper left page of the book. It is about a young boy riding a train to meet his parents. The illustrations for this story are soft and almost dream like. The second story "Problem Parents" is located in the lower left page and is written by a daughter whose parents being acting out of character and dressing up in newspaper. The illustrations are ink drawings in sepia tones. The third story, "A Waiting Game," is in the upper right page and is about people waiting for the train. It's illustrations are bright and colorful. Finally the fourth story, "Udder Chaos" is written on the lower right page. Oddly, the first line in the story sums it up, "The worst thing about Holstein cows is that if they ever get out of the field, they're almost impossible to find." Then the cows and a bugler who is also dressed in black and white blend into different scenery. The illustration are brightly colored and draw in a comic book style. It's a visual delight trying to locate the cows and the bugler across the pages. That is the simple part of this book
Each story is complete by itself, however all the stories cross over to the others. "Seeing Things" tells the story of what takes place as the boy travels to his parents. Yet some how Holstein cows walk past the train and there is a snow fall of newspaper pieces. "Problem Parents" tells how a set of parents crazily make outfits out of newspaper, and the family has a dog that looks like a Holstein cow. "A Waiting Game" is almost a wordless story with people waiting for a train and as they wait they being making crazy outfits out of newspaper. When the train finally picks them up the only person left is the bugler. The last story, "Udder Chaos" is primarily a collection of black and white camouflage pages where you try to locate the bugler among the Holstein cows. However, a road sign is placed on one page and the cows walk in front of a train on another page. Trains, newspapers, a bugler, and Holstein cows are all intertwined in all four stories. In the book flap, David Macaulay gives a "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 our stories. Or four parts of a story. Careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended." So is there four stories, is there just one story, or are there five stories. I just don't know. I was left with the feeling that I missed something big.
Please read this book so we can talk about it. Maybe you can show me what I missed and I can show you what you missed.
After looking for reviews I found this one--The Horn. They really understand the story and it's amazing what they see!