Round Trip
By Ann Jonas

Ann Jonas's Round Trip
Children's book review by Suzanne Holland

Ages 3-8

Fidgety? Bored? Feel like seeing some sights? Then, hop in the car, buckle up and get ready for an awesome road trip!!

Round Trip by Ann Jonas is an exciting, novel adventure in observation and discernment.

The artistry of the book lies in its striking black and white illustrations. Jonas leads us on a journey of discovery as we come to learn that the entire book is an example of optical illusions!

See how it works!

black and white bridge

Bridge in daytime

black and white telephone poles

Telephone poles at nighttime

The story line is very simple, and supports the illustrations rather than the typical other way around. The viewer shares the road trip that begins at first light, makes its way through farms, marshes and mountains before ending up in the big city. There, we park the car, take in a movie and look down from the top of a tall, tall building.

Apparently, this has taken the whole day because now it is time to turn around and go back home. Now, the real fun begins!

The ingenuity of this book cannot be overstated. On the last page, as the journey must reverse itself, you literally turn the book upside down and read backwards!!

The entire perspective shifts as now you are looking at the reverse image!

Those objects that were mainly black now become something else entirely as we look at it in white!!

The movie theatre suddenly becomes a restaurant, marshy plants have morphed into fireworks, and white trails on a black mountain have become bolts of lightning in a black sky.

I have read this book in my classroom for years and not once has it failed to produce astonishment and delighted gasps. It is so much fun to look at a page, try to remember what it had been before, and then turn it upside down to see.

I usually introduce this book when we are learning about perspective, symmetry, and other such concepts.

I purchased this book in paperback (teachers on a budget can’t always afford hardcover!) and its spine is broken and the pages are loose from being laid flat on a rug while the children lie on their tummies and flip the book back and forth.

You know you have a winner when children gather to look at a book when they could otherwise be playing!!

One of the nice aspects of Round Trip is its ageless appeal. Older children reading it for the first time may immediately notice the text running across the top as well as the bottom of the pages; I have never had a kindergarten/first grade child notice this until we read backwards.

Older kids may question the slow pace of the plot but they quickly catch on as the mystery reveals itself.

Round Trip by Ann Jonas is a rollicking ride, and best of all, no one ever gets carsick!!

Read more of Suzanne's reviews.

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