If you haven’t noticed by now, of the GB team I’m not the picture book expert. Hence, when the team decided on our March/April bi-monthly theme my repertoire of wordless picture book was limited to one. That ONE book was Zoom by Istvan Banyai. I knew of Zoom years ago and had recently seen a copy in our neighborhood bookshop. As soon as the theme was finalized, I headed out to get myself copy; to discover it was gone and all was left was Re-Zoom. While I discovered other wordless picture books—Time Flies and Flotsam—, which I’ve reviewed earlier, I was bent on looking for a copy of Zoom and attempt a 2-in-1 feature. I was unfortunate and because I cannot delay any further, I settle myself with writing about Re-Zoom. However, this isn’t the first time Gathering Books is featuring the work of Istvan Banyai. Myra reviewed his The Other Side book a few weeks ago.
Style and Artwork
Unlike the other picture books we are visually used to, Re-zoom’s style is different. It has a feel of a graphic novel to it. Its glossy pages and illustration is reminiscent of an older audience. However, its wordlessness and attention to detail renders it a wonderful book for children. Its title is a clue on how the book is done and like camera lenses or microscopes zooming slowly out, so does each page of the art work. It flows from the specific to the general. Almost like a visual game that was also evident in David Weiner’s Flotsam.
From Ancient to Modern
Re-zoom begins with a red archer; the image is crude and gets a feel of age like old art left on caves. As we re-zoom, we find ourselves looking at modern day watch and the pattern persists. There are glimpses of an ancient time, may it be, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Brahmans on elephants to Geishas, Banyai fills the senses with detail in his artwork. Alongside these seemingly historical artifacts are modern day’s settings from movie sets to train rides. I’m tempted to say they are juxtapositions of the old and new, but that would not do the book justice.
Traveling Across the Globe
Re-zoom in essence doesn’t go around the world. It doesn’t even move horizontally, it goes from in the well and out of it. It’s like pressing fast-forward on your DVD player. However each page does seem like a trip to some place, may it be some ancient site, the international ocean, a town in India or a Japanese Garden. Banyai doesn’t skimp on this. He completes the picture with details to trick you in believing that this level of the re-zoom is indeed Vietnam (or Thailand), Egypt, India or Japan.
Each page of Re-zoom is a piece of artwork. That when torn away from the binding, framed and hanged on the wall it would most definitely invite a conversation. Istvan Banyai’s artwork is engaging and his style very different from what most picture book readers are used to. Maybe it’s his background as a commercial illustrator and animator that brings in that uniqueness.
Parents and teachers can use this books to allow its young readers to create a story or to point out items on the page that stand out for them. I also suggest that parents and teachers to pause at each page for the young readers to absorb the images and ask their questions. I’m sure there will be questions!
Note: All images were taken by the blog author from her copy of Re-Zoom.