September 19, 2016

TOTO'S APPLE

TOTO'S APPLE by Mathieu Lavoie is one of the cutest, most understated books I've read in a long while. Toto the worm is on the ground when he sees an apple in a tree. But he's down low and the apple is up high. It seems like such a simple story, and yet it explores the complexities of life and working to achieve goals.

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This book is solid in so many ways. The gouache illustrations are giant blocks of color with clean lines, and there's minimal text that enhances the images. Lavoie's color scheme strongly emphasizes contrasting colors (red and green) in most of the images such that our eye is almost constantly drawn to the apple, just like Toto is completely focused on the apple. I found myself flipping through the pages more quickly the third time I read the book, and with every new spread my eyes moved from Toto to apple, Toto to apple, almost like a pendulum. Like Toto, the apple is all we can see, and in that moment we can appreciate Toto's focus.

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There's a subtle lesson in opposites--high and low, here and there, etc.--but the text and images read as one, graceful narrative and enhance each other perfectly. The ending is super quirky and unexpected, and I'm so happy I came upon it!