Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

I have long been fascinated by Il Sung Na's unique illustration style and charmingly odd perspectives and I was excited to explore this new picture book, where he branches out into a new art style.

The book opens with a dreamy blue-gray sky, dotted with tiny stars. We follow a keeper into...The Opposite Zoo. The zoo is closed, but there's a monkey loose and ready to explore. The reader follows the monkey on a journey of discovery as we compare very different animals to each other. An owl is awake, a panda is asleep. A chameleon is shy, a peacock is bold. Seals are black, swans are white. Each pair of opposites is shown with a single word for each contrasting trait. Finally, the sun rises, the monkey returns to its cage, and The Opposite Zoo is open and ready for visitors!

Il Sung Na's style in his previous books has been very specific - he uses what looks almost like collages with lots of background patterns. I love it and it's colorful and amazing, but I'm excited to see he's using a new technique in this latest book. His new art style retains the wonderful colors but has a much more sketchy and loose feel. The vibrant colors pop off the page - an orange an yellow line with a swirly mane, blue and green hippo, rainbow tortoise with watercolor swirls on its shell, and small, spiky hedgehog with reds and purples under its black spines.

From a purely professional standpoint, I am quite pleased that Il Sung Na has added another style to his repertoire, since I can now feature him in one of my We Explore Favorite Artists programs this summer - with both collage and watercolors. I also love the details that are still include although he's branched out into a less-stylized medium.

Verdict: Great for teaching kids about opposites, featuring in programs on art, and just reading for fun. Don't miss this latest book from Il Sung Na. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780553511277; Published 2016 by Alfred A Knopf; Galley provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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