The New York Times Book Review - Tom Lichtenheld
Illustrated with the joyous aesthetic of a Matisse cut-paper collage, the story works gracefully both ways, and children will love following the character as it ventures away from home in one version, then back to the security of its family in the other. A Long Way Away delivers an exciting out-and-back adventure while proving there's still room for invention in the nondigital book format.
Viva’s Along a Long Road featured a bicycle trip that wound through the book from left to right. With its matte paper and silkscreen-like images, his sophomore effort shares the stylish look of its predecessor, but delivers a more ambitious story. The book is meant to be read vertically, and the journey proceeds from top to bottom and back again; Viva’s telegraphic writing ensures the story works just as well in reverse. On the top page, a happy alien family gathers (they look like space octopuses, with antennae and a fringe of tentacles). Their alien child starts a downward slide along a yellow path past celestial bodies (and a shoe), through the Earth’s atmosphere, past a whale and school of dapper fish, and into the blackest ocean depths. “Deep asleep,” the final page reads, as the alien lodges on an underwater cliff. The return trip shows the creature rising up through the ocean and back through deep space (“Under/ Over/ Around/ Zooming”) before being reunited with his family: “A home/ A hug.” Intelligently conceived and handsomely executed, it’s a potential classic. Ages 3–6. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Apr.)
The Horn Book
"From the farthest reaches of outer space to the deepest ocean on Earth and back again, Frank Viva takes readers on a round trip ride...Deceptively simple, this is one story a parent or child will want to return to again and again. "
From the Publisher
"A terrific debut from Viva."The New York Times"
This is one of those rare picture books that deserves a place not only on a child's bookshelf but in an art museum - and would be equally at home in both."The Boston Globe
*"Cleverly designed and perfectly executed, this dynamic two-way story across space, land and sea offers multidimensional adventure and possibilities."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
* "This outstanding visual treat about the open road will inspire readers."School Library Journal (starred review)"
From the farthest reaches of outer space to the deepest ocean on Earth and back again, Frank Viva takes readers on a round trip ride...Deceptively simple, this is one story a parent or child will want to return to again and again. "The Horn Book"
[Viva's] bold graphic designs are kitschy clean, weirdly classy, and inviting all at once...."Booklist"
Simultaneously stylish and restrained."Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
From far off in space, an alien comes hurtling down toward earth. It spins around, zooms at top speed, and finds itself upside down moving further into the blackness of space where there is no turning back. Past the moon, a space station, and flying space ships it continues its downward spiral past a passenger jet, a helicopter, and over a cityscape toward the sea, where it splashes deep into the ocean. On its descent it sees fish, large and small, a deep sea diver, and fantastic aquatic life. Finally, it settles on the ocean's floor. But for the reader and the alien, the journey does not end here, for now the reader can continue the adventure by reading the story from bottom to top, following the alien as it reverses itself and heads back to outer space. The continuous vertical journey is a clever tour de force. The limited palette of red, yellow and blue on a black background is visually appealing and the "this way/that way" layout will intrigue readers. It might even inspire budding writers to try their hand at this technique and format. Imaginative and engaging, this is a sensation and a possible Caldecott contender. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—This innovative picture book is designed to be read vertically from the top down as well as from the bottom up. Starting one way, the story follows an octopuslike alien as he swooshes down from space. A yellow wiggly line traces his journey past assorted sights like spaceships and a parachuting man, down into the depths of the ocean where he falls asleep. Read from the other direction, the story starts on the seabed and follows the creature up into space and into the waiting arms of his family. The spare, poetic text works perfectly in both directions. As in Viva's Along a Long Road (Little, Brown, 2011), the illustrations were created as a continuous 26-foot-long piece of art using Adobe Illustrator. The striking graphic design features a limited palette of yellow, black, blue, red and white. This ingenious book invites many repeat readings.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Cleverly designed and perfectly executed, this dynamic two-way story across space, land and sea offers multidimensional adventure and possibilities. Begin on one side, and it's a journey down, away from the familiar into the deep. A warm embrace greets readers before a cephalopodlike alien descends, weaving past planets and stars on its topsy-turvy trajectory toward Earth. The appealing creature zooms by planes and towns, sea life and subs, before reaching the deep underwater world to sleep. Begin on the other side, and the alien rises from slumber, its trajectory upward toward heart and home. The illustrations recall Matisse, with their simulation of paper cut-outs, celestial quality and use of a limited four-color palette, which Viva proves can still create infinite possibilities. J. Otto Seibold and Gary Baseman also come to mind, for the work's graphic nature and loose, organic stylizations. But Viva is his own master, as he uses the constraints of the two-way format to great effect. Readers will be taken on a cosmic odyssey, while encouraged to experience a book in multiple ways--to think of a story as an interpretation, not an edict. Meticulously designed, from its art direction to the print and finish on the pages, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking work. (Picture book. 3-6)