Outstanding in the Rain by Frank Viva, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Outstanding in the Rain

Outstanding in the Rain

by Frank Viva

Step right up! Step right up to the amusing amusement park!
It's a whole story, and the pages have holes!
Watch the holes transform pictures!
Turn an umbrella into a cake and balloons into ice cream!
See the holes transform words!
Turn an ice man into a nice man and see fork handles turn into four candles!
Outstanding in the Rain will turn


Step right up! Step right up to the amusing amusement park!
It's a whole story, and the pages have holes!
Watch the holes transform pictures!
Turn an umbrella into a cake and balloons into ice cream!
See the holes transform words!
Turn an ice man into a nice man and see fork handles turn into four candles!
Outstanding in the Rain will turn any gray day into one that is Grade A!

From the creator of New York Times Best-Illustrated book Along a Long Road and A Long Way Away, picture book master Frank Viva does it again, this time with astounding die-cuts that transform both words and pictures in delightful ways, while telling the story of a young boy spending his birthday at Coney Island, in search of his heart's desire.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
With the playful visual and verbal economy that is a hallmark of Viva's work…[this is] one of those books that pulls grown-ups into its puzzles as surely as it does children…Charming as it is, the story can't help being mostly a vehicle for the book's verbal and visual achievement, which is considerable. To add to the challenges Viva set himself, he uses only five colors: cream, dark brown, a matte cherry red, a bright turquoise and a mango-y yellow-orange. The result is a retro-futuristic mood perfect for the Coney Island setting, and it lends even more of a cool, urban aura to Viva's already beguiling figures, with their long, curvy lines and weird proportions.
Publishers Weekly
Viva (Along a Long Road) plays a game of conceal and reveal with die-cuts in this homophonic salute to Coney Island. A boy is celebrating his birthday, and his first order of business is “ice cream,” with the word “cream” framed by an oval opening. Readers turn the page to uncover a hidden S and observe that the scoops have fallen off the cone (“ ‘Oh no!’ I scream,/ with tears in my eyes”). The boy and his mother proceed to the amusement park, enjoy birthday cake on the beach, and as the sun sets and a “night rain” falls, the “night train” arrives, and an “ice man” becomes a “nice man” by replacing the boy’s lost treat. Viva’s playfully stylized graphics—in saturated hues of hot fudge, gold, vanilla, turquoise, and red—celebrate boardwalk food stands, carnival games, and beach goers. Yet Viva sometimes labors to find words to fit the die-cut holes (“Those sandwiches there,/ they look the best./ On the sand which is there,/ we stop and rest”), calling attention to the strained gimmick. Ages 3–6. Agency: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"As my favorite contemporary children's artist-author, only Frank Viva has the esthetic chops to find holes in the certainty of words to let the uncertain poetry of life show through. This book blends and bends simplicity and complexity to their breaking points, and I guarantee it will knock you out."—Chris Ware, author of Building Stories
Children's Literature - Carol Wolfenbarger
The title itself is a play on words. Outstanding can mean exceptional or it could refer to the boy’s adventure in the rain. The book opens with front endpapers that are a panorama of the beach and a board walk amusement arcade, with the New York City skyline across the water. Orange red, golden yellow, dark chocolate brown, bottle green, and manila-paper tan give a retro complexion to the ‘50s feeling of the stylized art. A mother and boy have gone to the park to celebrate his birthday. Turning die-cut pages reveals different words and pictures. Ice Cream become I Scream and the top of the train car becomes the boy’s big toothy mouth as he screams (he’s dropped his ice cream cone) when the page is turned. This trope continues throughout the book until day becomes night and it is time to go home. With the end of the day comes rain. The boy gets another ice cream cone for the ride home. The back endpapers of brown and Coke bottle green show the boardwalk closed for the night. Information about the art design of the book is found on the copyright page. This story is an amusing adventure that should engage younger readers. Reviewer: Carol Wolfenbarger; Ages 4 to 7.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Verbal and graphic acrobatics abound in this visually playful yet not altogether successful picture book, "a whole story with holes." The spare narrative finds a boy and his mother celebrating his fourth birthday at Coney Island, a locale that provides plenty of illustrative opportunity for Viva to display his appealingly retro graphic style. A five-color palette of red-orange, teal, yellow, beige, and brown feels fresh, as do the strategically placed die-cut holes that create new words and images with every page turn. The graphic transformations are simple and pleasing, such as turning an umbrella into a birthday cake; however the same cannot be said of the verbal gymnastics, which weigh down the rhyming text with purpose. Utilizing a series of oronyms (a sequence of words that sound the same as a different sequence of words), "Ice cream" becomes "I scream," "her ear" becomes "her rear," and "fork handles" becomes "four candles," transformations that appear clever but ultimately feel forced and gimmicky. VERDICT Despite some hiccups in the text, the lure of visual surprises and wordplay will spur readers forward through this handsomely designed book.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A boy's amusement-park birthday becomes a die-cut celebration for all. As the D train pulls into Coney Island, anticipation builds. On this gorgeous day, the park beckons with food, rides and games. Mother treats son to ice cream, adventures, a beach picnic and more, while Viva treats readers to stunning spreads recalling the joys and trials (spilled ice cream!) of childhood. Graphically compelling, the linocut style and limited palette recall Matisse, but this is also an exploration of die-cut storytelling. Cutouts highlight and reveal words, shapes and patterns. Great attention is given to ensure that these track. The word "cream" appears in a die-cut window under the word "ice"; that "cream" becomes "scream" when the page is turned and the treat dropped. However, whether they highlight the heart of the story is debatable, and the often forced rhyming text falls short of the work's visual achievement. As the night train approaches and rain sprinkles down, the boy receives a new cone, offering contentment and closure to a memorable day. A visually splendid birthday jaunt is a bit dampened by its text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Frank Viva is an award-winning illustrator and designer living and working in Toronto. His beautiful books include Along a Long Road and A Long Way Away. His art has appeared in many wonderful places, including the cover of the New Yorker. He is outstanding in his field, especially on the farm.

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