Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Skies Above My Eyes, by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer; reviewed by Anne Rooney

This lavishly illustrated concertina-book is a guide to what you can see when you look up. It's such a simple concept, yet so original. It folds out to a massive — whatever an upwards panoroma is. An up-orama? You can just sit on the sofa with a child and flick through it. But if you have a fair bit of empty floor space and can open it out, it's well worth the effort to do so. That makes reading part of a larger physical activity that might appeal to kids who don't like to sit still and read.

The up-orama is double-sided, with one side revealing what you might see looking up in a city and the other what you might see in the countryside. It's an inspired solution to the problem of including children living in very different types of area, as well giving an opportunity for a 'nature' side and a 'technology' side. Each side is one beautiful, detailed and ornate picture, with blocks of text for each item in the illustration, covering everything 'up there' from birds and planes to planets and stars. There are heaps of amazing details, from how window-cleaners clean the glass of towering skyscrapers to which bird can fly higher than Mount Everest and what comets are. It deals with the different levels of the atmosphere and distances in space. I really like that it's entirely interdisciplinary. It's not 'just' about animals or technology or Earth science or space but blends all these as needed in a book with its own very distinctive angle.

It has a bit of an imposed narrative in that it traces a journey up and then down, though I read it with MB as two 'ups', town and country ups. I guess if you do as they say, it's an 'up-and-down-orama'. There are so many little snippets of info, each with its own picture, that you can use it as a starting point for discussion or research on dozens of different projects.

To use it to best effect, it's nice if you can lay it out on the floor, but you can use it like a book if you don't have space.

This would be brilliant for lockdown or summer holidays. Because of the format, it doesn't feel too 'bookish' — it feels like an activity. You could take it outside and see which things you can spot, or make your own up-orama from your garden or street. It's a brilliant concept, beautifully executed and well researched. Thoroughly recommended!

Written by: Charlotte Guillain
Illustrated by: Yuval Zommer
Published by: Words and Pictures, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-910277-68-3
Price: £14.99



Sue Purkiss said...

My grandsons really enjoyed Charlotte's The Earth Beneath Our Feet (?) - this one sounds like another must.

Penny Dolan said...

Looks a wonderful book for reading on a carpet on your knees and chatting about.

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