December 16, 2019

Favorite Leporellos

Tomorrow I start my favorites of the year lists, but today I want to talk about my favorite leporellos. Leporellos (also called concertinas or accordion books) are books whose pages are folded into an accordion –– a series of events literally unfolds as the reader opens the book. You can learn a little more about the history and evolution of leporellos here.

For now, though, I wanted to share my updated list of favorite leporellos. Click on the book images to jump around, or scroll all the way through to see them all (which I highly suggest).

                   

By Duncan Tonatiuh

Juan grew up in Mexico working in the fields, but his family is struggling for money so he decides to cross over into the United States, making him an undocumented worker. Despite the fact that he lives his life in fear of being turned into the authorities he risks everything to stand up for himself and his community.

Read my interview with creator Duncan Tonatiuh here.

 


Tell 

By Warja Lavater 

Presented entirely in pictograms, Tell is a wordless leporello about Swiss folk hero Wilhelm Tell. Tell was a master marksman who was forced to earn his freedom by splitting an apple placed over his son's head. The book literally unfolds with arrows carrying readers through, and there's a legend included on an accompanying card for a more guided experience.



By Magali Attiogbe

Rather than a narrative that unfolds with every pleat, the images in this book are thematically linked. We see thirty prints with drawings relating to Africa. From the pineapple to the leopard to the djembe, readers experience vibrant portraits of people, places, animals, and more associated with Africa, and each print is paired with a word or two describing the image.


   



By Ping Zhu

Ping Zhu wordlessly shows both sides of the curtain during a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet. On one side of the leporello we see the precision and orderliness that the audience witnesses, and on the other the chaos and bustle of being backstage. The story is shown primarily in blues and oranges, and the complementary color choice delightfully parallels Zhu showing two sides of the curtain. The publisher has a few books in this format.



By Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet

This oversized leporello has 32 pages, so it's not only large, but it gets very long. Scenes of nature and indigenous wildlife from all around the world are done in black and white lithographs, with a daytime view on one side and a nighttime view on the other. It’s a beautiful and interactive look at the world's beauty from differing perspectives.




Out the Window 

By Cybèle Young

This nearly wordless board book follows a small animal who loses his ball out a window. Too small to look out the window, the little creature finally finds a way to see where the ball went, but it discovers that it's lost amidst a parade strange machines and creatures. Naturally, you see the mammal's point of view on one side of the opened leporello and the parade on the other.






Romeo and Juliet 

By Yelena Bryksenkova

Classic Romeo and Juliet story told in fourteen vertical panels. There are only three titles in the Classics Unfolded series, including Romeo and Juliet, Pride & Prejudice, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the third of which you can see in more detail here.



The Enduring Ark 

By Joydeb Chitrakar and Gita Wolf

Bengali Patua scroll painter Joydeb Chitrakar puts forth the Indian version of this Biblical tale, with warm colors leading readers from a deluge of water, to the on-boarding of the animals, to the inevitable rainbow the end of their journey. 





By Albertine

A fisherman pulls a large fish out of the ocean one day. But as rumors of the catch begin to spread through the local town, the story gets more and more exaggerated. It wasn't a fish, it was an octopus. It wasn't an octopus, it was a sea monster. Or a mermaid! This wordless story literally unfolds for an entertaining read with lots of fun details to spot.



By Clémentine Sourdais 

This leporello consists of cut-out cardstock so that readers can flash a light through the pages and cast shadows on the walls. It's absolutely stunning, and makes for a super fun interactive read of the well-known story. See and read more here.


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