When You Look Up

Enchanted Lion. May 2020. 184p. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781592702930.
Gr 3-5–Lorenzo and his mom are moving to a new home away from everyone, and the only way Lorenzo can keep in touch with his old life is through his phone. As he begins to lose signal the further they travel, Lorenzo is forced to pay attention to the world that’s directly in front of him. After arriving at his new home, Lorenzo explores an old desk in his new room and discovers that behind a secret door under the desk lies a notebook containing strange but fascinating tales. This Spanish-language translation defies strict format definitions, straddling the line between picture book and graphic novel. Character actions are often described instead of visually depicted, narration is done without boxes, and paneling is often eschewed in favor of full-page or two-page spreads, particularly in the notebook sections. The notebook serves as a device to showcase multiple stories within a story, with the tales read by Lorenzo portrayed in a collage-esque style, using a vibrant mustard yellow that strongly contrasts with the more subdued and ashen sage-based palette of Lorenzo’s narrative. There are also subtle traces of visual depth within both styles: The collage pages resemble layered construction with textured materials, and the art of the main story includes visible brushstrokes in layered paint. Lorenzo shows growth as he learns to show interest in others, but the real focus is on the notebook.
VERDICT A quirky and imaginative tale for young readers with mature tastes about the rewards of disconnecting from technology to connect with others.

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