Book from the Ground by Xu Bing
In the 1920s, a group of scholars in Vienna tried to devise a universal picture language called isotype. Today, Shigetaka Kurita has achieved that vision with emojis. And Xu Bing is the first to write a book from emojis and other contemporary symbols. Book from the Ground portrays a very relatable and surprisingly readable day in the life of an office worker. The protagonist’s struggles with his alarm, deadlines, and online dating are made all the more real through their portrayal in universal pictures. Bing seamlessly moves between events, thoughts, and even dream sequences—and each feels fresher than the last.
Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian
For Sorted Books, Nina Katchadourian goes to institutional (like the Akron Art Museum) and private (like two real estate agents on their second marriage) libraries and arranges “portraits” and “clusters” from book spines and covers into witty and meaningful amalgamations. “Conversations with Artists” paired with “When Two or More are Gathered Together” and “Dreams and Schemes” becomes something that quite transcends the simple elegance of the three spines. Katchadourian oscillates between art world pithiness and universal truths, and displays a surprising ability to alternate between hilarious, witty, and profound combinations. This book rewards repeated readings.
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Flotsam is an silent picture book where a boy finds a camera on the beach. As he develops the fantastical underwater photos, he stops at one of another child holding a photo on another beach. The photo in the photo is of a child holding a photo of another child and so on through a lovely Droste effect until we arrive at a scene reminiscent of San Francisco’s Cliff House in its heyday. The boy then takes a selfie holding this recursive image and hurls the camera into the ocean. Full of color, sans words, this is Wiesner’s Caldecott-winning best.
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