Black and White


Black and White

David Macaulay, author and illustrator

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990

30 pp

ages 5 +

Interests: picture puzzles, mysteries, trains, cows

By the same author: Cathedral: The Story of its Construction, City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, The Way Things Work

I’ll start with the warning on the title page of this book:

This book appears to contain a number of stories that do not necessarily occur at the same time. Then again, it may contain only one story. In any event, careful inspection of both words and pictures is recommended.

Indeed. This book defies description but I will give it a shot… Each two-page spread is split into four sections and four stories are told side by side – each in a very different style, they almost seem to be done by four different illustrators and written by four different authors. For the careful listener and watcher, there are elements that cross over from story to story – boxes inside boxes inside boxes.

Clever, challenging, playful, dreamy and vague, as well as being visually arresting. It will most certainly have your child pondering more with each re-read. 4 or 5 year olds are capable of putting some of the pieces together, especially if they like puzzles. Even grownups will find it intriguing.

There’s a boy on a train returning to his parents, there’s a train platform full of waiting commuters, there are two children with very odd parents, there is a herd of Holstein cows. And a cartoony burglar. And newspapers. That’s about all I can tell you – you’ve really got to read this one.

(This title at


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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