Reviews /

Room on Top

Authored by Bruno Hächler, translated by Marshall Yarbrough
Illustrated by Laura D’Arcangelo
Published by NorthSouth Books

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It is common, when advising adults on how to share picture books, to suggest that the children should be given the opportunity to look at the front and back covers and the end papers. With Room on top this is a must. The minimal endpapers connect the front cover to the opening of the story, and the end papers emerge from the end of the narrative and connect to the cover. It is a beautiful piece of picture book design. 

This book for young children follows a simple narrative in which the lonely little anteater finds new friends and invites them to ride along with him on mama anteater’s back. The palette is muted but warm, with minimal background illustration most of the time. The exceptions are when one of little anteater’s friends reflects on how their usual experiences contrast with the ride on mama’s back, when the setting is filled out with more vivid illustration. Each of the new friends, badger, duck, hare, squirrel, frog (‘and family too’) snail, fox, woodpecker, mole and dormouse are rendered full of character with wide eyes which communicate their panic as they finally topple (harmlessly) to the ground. 

This is an ideal book for young children to identify the animals in the pile of creatures on mama anteater’s back as it gets higher and higher, to anticipate the final collapse and to enjoy the animals tumbling to earth.