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What’s Next Door and the “buzz-saw of the imagination”

What's Next Door | Nicola O'Byrne

What’s Next Door – the latest picture book by Nicola O’Byrne, award-winning illustrator of Open Very Carefully – has been featured in an essay on picture books in the TLS by Imogen Russell Williams.

Of the book, Russell Williams writes:

“Even for the youngest, intelligent illus­tration offers far more than factual images, reinforcers for the all-important word. Sometimes its absence, in the form of judicious die-cutting, allows for a literal passage between pages, as in Nicola O’Byrne’s What’s Next Door, in which Carter, a bilious green crocodile with a bull terrier’s menacing, squat muscularity, is lost. Simultaneously ­begging and belligerent, he holds up a sign: “Please can you help me find my way home? Or I will eat you”. The reader is adjured to draw a door with a finger and think very hard about somewhere wet. On the following page, to ­fanfare (“Well done! That’s a brilliant door!”), a double-doored red portal is revealed to have been cut, through which Carter is ­wiggled to find himself, not at home, but in the sea . . . . This simple formula, repeated with deft variations, inspires complete fascination, imparting the impression that the imagination has the dangerous power of a buzz-saw to bring transgressive, revealing change, as well as furnishing the next page with new perils (from which it alone can provide the escape).”

You can read the full piece here.

And here’s a look inside What’s Next Door:

Buy the book online.

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