FICTION

Hello Hello

illus. by Brendan Wenzel. 48p. Chronicle. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452150147. POP
COPY ISBN
In this equally inventive follow-up to They All Saw a Cat (rev. 11/16), spare rhyming couplets invite viewers to say "Hello" to ninety-two animals from around the world: "Hello Hello / Black and White / Hello Color / Hello Bright." The creatures, shown in Wenzel's mixed-media illustrations of wide-eyed animals on crisp white pages, are conceptually organized (the "Black and White" spread includes a black cat, a black bear, a panda, and a zebra), with some being more abstract (the "Hello Wonder / Hello WHOA!" spread shows a few of the world's more unusual animals). Seamlessly grouping so many disparate creatures by clear themes is a standalone achievement, but Wenzel also manages to link each animal to the previous and subsequent animal by an unstated physical attribute that does not necessarily relate to the text, creating a secondary thematic chain that viewers must independently decipher; and the last animal on each spread is the first animal on the next spread. For example, an African bush elephant is preceded by a walrus (visually connected by their tusks) and, after a page-turn, is followed by an African lion (visually linked by their bushy tails). This additional level of complexity, along with a conservation-minded author's note and a useful appended animal index (complete with each animal's conservation status), makes for a satisfyingly complex and immersive experience. patrick gall

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