Sunday, 22 April 2012

Round Trip by Ann Jonas

Round Trip was one of my favourite books as a kid, something we borrowed over and over again from the library.  I remember being mesmerised by the moody black and white images within, and it really captured the feeling of sitting in the back of a car on a long journey.  But the most amazing thing about this book was how you could literally turn it upside down once you'd finished and read it back through.  I've never found anything like it since (apart from another similar book by Jonas), and I came across it online the other day so I decided to snap up a paperback copy and see if it was as I remember.

For some reason even back when I was a kid this book looked dated - maybe it was the font used on the front cover - but that didn't mean I liked it any less. In fact, it only seemed to add to its mysteriousness.  And I like how unlike a normal book it is. No space is wasted, as on every page, as well as the front and back covers, there's one of these rotatable pictures on it.  I'll only show a photo of one of the images - if you really want to see the rest of the book I recommend buying a copy for yourself.  It's just over £1 for a new copy on Amazon.

"Then we went to a movie,"

"Then we had dinner in a restaurant,"

The words are minimal - they're simply used as a guide to identify these images, which, as you can imagine, might look a bit vague and ambiguous without any explanation. But that's half of the fun, as your eyes and mind adjust to the picture in front of you and you realise what you're looking at.  It's tempting to scan the whole picture and try and imagine what the journey on the way back will look like, but you can never truly tell until you've actually flipped the book over and are travelling back through these oddly familiar pictures.

It must have taken Jonas a long time to conceptualise, draw and tweak these pictures until they all made sense.  Some are better than others, but the whole book is a fascinating journey. It's still as magical as it was when I read it as a kid, and now I have an artistic and mathematical appreciation for these images which I wouldn't have had before.

The strange feeling of desolateness/loneliness I got from reading the book as a kid is still there, and if you're interested in cool books, magic eye puzzles, optical illusions or anything like that I'd recommend getting a copy.  It makes a great coffee table book.

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