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The Other Side Hardcover – July 7, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–There's nothing mundane or predictable about Banyai's wordless picture book. As in Zoom and Re-Zoom (both Viking, 1995), the illustrator takes his audience on a visual journey that begins with a nearly blank page that, when turned, reveals instructions for folding a paper airplane. On the next page, a girl in her high-rise apartment practices her cello and a paper airplane can be seen outside her window. Readers flip the page to see the girl's building from the outside looking in. Paper airplanes are everywhere, thanks to a young neighbor one floor up who has been practicing his folding skills. Each pair of pages, front and back, presents inside and outside views, and although the scenes are not obviously linked to a larger plotline, they are connected through reoccurring images, colors, and themes. This is a challenging book, one that allows for creative speculation. The graphite-rendered artwork is quirky as well as infinitely interesting. Not everyone will get the sly humor, or be prepared to indulge in a book that demands such work. However, those who give it a try will be drawn into a thought-provoking, whimsical world. It's a book that begs to be talked about, and teachers will find it a useful tool for discussions about point-of-view and perspective.–Carol L. MacKay, Camrose Public Library, Alberta, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Like the cerebral doodlings found within Banyai's previous, wordless picture books, Zoom (1995), Re-zoom (1995),and REM (1997), this title, also wordless, will best suit readers in the middle grades and beyond. Banyai explores the concept of "the other side" through visual vignettes offering contrasting perspectives on dreamlike scenarios, often revealing previously hidden information that significantly alters how a scene is perceived. The book's abrupt transition from fluidly interconnected scenes to unrelated pairs of images may leave some observers fruitlessly searching for connecting threads, but this inconsistency shouldn't be insurmountable for most members of the target audience. Even some YAs will be drawn by the urbane, cutting-edge sensibility (this may, in fact, be the first picture book to contain a depiction of an iPod). Choose specific images to spur creative writing, discuss the whole thing in the context of lessons on point of view, or simply offer it as a wake-up call to jaded preteens about what a picture book can be. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Edition edition (July 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811846083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811846080
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Istvan Banyai, creator of the award-winning children's book Zoom and The Other Side, has produced illustrations for such publications as the New Yorker, Playboy, and Rolling Stone; cover art for Sony and Verve Records; and animated short films for Nickelodeon and MTV Europe. He lives in Connecticut.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Other Side is a unique exploration of, well, the other side, challenging young readers and adults alike to open their minds and explore the unknown. Using visual clues, each page graphically introduces new elements into the illustrator's clever twists and turns, new points of view that question even the obvious, the top, the bottom, the flip side of what our eyes perceive. Looking through a window, a paper airplane glides by; from the exterior of the building, an apartment house, myriad tiny planes fly on the currents of wind; then from the perspective of a jetliner, we see other such airplanes skimming the horizon. A woman sits in an empty theater, waiting for the curtain to rise, the spotlight illuminating a small head with a pointed red cap; from behind the curtain, we see that this is a clown peeking through, and on the stage with him, a ballerina, a bird in a skirt, a cat, a tiger.

And so it goes, each new illustration revealing more elements of the compositions to pique our curiosity, each idiosyncratic figure with another perspective. On one side of a block, passersby are startled by a "bang!"; even the mannequins in a store window turn their attention to the commotion. But it is only a film crew, as we see from around the corner, a cowboy shoot-out in front of a toy store. The simple illustrations in black, white and gray are highlighted by the occasional spot of bright red, the simple, primary drawings belying a sophisticated mind. This is an excellent book to read with a child, an opportunity to see which one's imagination comes up with the most creative assumptions. Another title in the Chronicle Books wide variety of children's titles, The Other Side not only steps outside the box, it makes the box disappear! Luan Gaines/2005.
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Format: Hardcover
In the spirit of "The Other SIde," I'm going to put the bottom line on top: ALthough this book defies categorization, it's not really a kids' book. I suppose some kids in elementary school might enjoy the graphic style, and "get" the basic premise (which is either "what happens next?" or "what would this look like from a different perspective?"), the verbal and visual references, wit, puns, allusions, and reverals might elude them.

"The Other Side" is an unusual and very creative book consisting of a series of high quality graphic and op art illustrations, presenting a scene and, on the following page, what the scene looks like from "the other side." For clarity, here are some examples: We see a picture of caged tiger at a zoo looking out at a little girl and her cat. Hmmm...what might happen next, or,--as on some pages--what is the reverse of this? Turn the page, and we see the girl and the tiger looking at the caged cat, the bars twisted as if, a la Superman, the lion (or the cat?) had separated the bars. Another simple favorite is two views of boys playing with a football: One page shows the view of the hiker's behind from the quarterback's perspective; the next page shows the (upside-down) quarterback from the between the legs, upside-down perspective of the hiker. However, another scene shows an apparent shooting (with mannequins moving their heads to look around the corner) but it's really a film being shot. This has very little to do with reasoning or perceptual skill; for all the visual puns and surprises; it's really about the possibilities of story telling.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Hanington on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I got this book out of the library for my young kids, I'd never heard of Istvan Banyai before. However, after having this book in my possession for nearly 2 weeks now, and faced with the prospect of returning it to the library, I've just gone online and ordered several copies - one to keep, the rest to give away. What a book! I never dreamt that a picture book would hold my interest for so long. When I first got it, I spent a good 2 hours focused on it during a recent car trip (I was a passenger :-). Every time I went through the book, I saw more and more... such detail! Such wonderful ideas! All loosely tied to the idea of "The other side." Of a piece of paper, of a curtain, of a window, of a subway station...

Just when I thought I'd figured out the author's tricks - he would surprise me with something out of left field. It often requires some focused thought to "get" his point. So... while you can enjoy the pictures on one level, if you have a couple of uninterrupted hours to spend with the book, you'll see so much more.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
High-concept. There are certain parents for whom nothing less will do for their children. Some parents are happy if they can find ANYTHING for their kids to read. Others zero in on their child's number one obsession (trains, princesses, snot, etc.) and buy or borrow only books that concentrate on that subject. And then there are the parents that will go out and buy Istvan Banyai's, "The Other Side" in the hopes that it will make their children smarter. Coming hot on the heels of a similar (and far more child friendly) title "The Red Books" by Barbara Lehman, Banyai's latest picture book offering is beautiful, intense, and is going to be loved by a very select segment of the wider child audience. Now I would like to state for the record that I loved this book. I am also, however, twenty-seven and my taste (for all its charms) does not perfectly mirror that of your average preschooler. I also am a resident of New York City and while I have little doubt that many Upper East Side parents would like nothing better than to add, "The Other Side" to their budding genius's collections, I'm not entirely certain how welcome it will be cross country-wise. It's a deeply intelligent and quite amusing book. Just don't cry if the five-year-old you toss it to doesn't lap it up like chocolate milk.

You need to understand how to read this book before you pick it up. Fortunately, the instructions are in the title itself. Everything on one page corresponds to what happens on the next by showing the "other side". Example: One page shows a boy in a coral colored cap peeking from an airplane window. Now turn the page and you find yourself on the other side of that window. You are now in the plane looking at the back of the boy's head from down a row of passengers.
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