Near, Far

Near, Far is a deceptively simple picturebook. Done in vivid block colours throughout, it is as much a mystery narrative as an essay on perspective for very young children. There are seven creatures portrayed one at a time, beginning with a close-up view and gradually retreating far enough for the viewer to be able to tell what each creature actually is. The illustrations are so clever that the pictures are quite puzzling for child and adult alike, and give great opportunity for discussion, guess-work, prediction, discovery and back-tracking to look for missed clues. This is picturebook is an interactive adventure in visual detective work.

As a teacher, I like story books which can be used for more than ‘just’ the story contained within. This is a perfect example of a book being merely the starting point and vehicle for further discussion, language development, studying a child’s surroundings with him/her, and lots of interesting art work. It also takes much artistic skill and thought to illustrate a book without words and do it so well.

Near, Far is the perfect sort of book to encourage discussion and vocabulary development in young children. This wordless book is most suitable for pre-schoolers 0-4, but could be recommended for use in an art class context with 5-7 year olds and possibly even older children. I defy anyone to, firstly, read this book silently and, secondly, to read it only once.