Friday, June 04, 2010
D. B. Johnson
Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group
“I don’t grow up. In me is the small child of my early days.” As we prepare to enter the upside-down world of Mauk, his Master and a host of carpenters, bricklayers and other workers, we are welcomed by this Escher quote. Impossible Structures – M. C. Escher was famous for creating them and Mauk, the pencil-sharpening apprentice who just may have turned the blueprints every so slightly on numerous occasions when his master was not looking, created a very Escher-like impossible structure in “Palazzo Inverso.” What a gem of a children’s book D. B. Johnson has written! And for those adults fascinated by the mathematical artistic creations of M. C. Escher, a quick topsy-turvy read of Palazzo Inverso will be a welcome adventure.
When Mauk enters the Palazzo for work one morning he finds carpenters standing on their heads and bricks being spilled onto the ceiling. Mauk finds that he, too, is running the staircase down to the tower! Mauk longed to draw but was never allowed to. His input came while the Master was doing other things and Mauk turned the drawings ever so slightly. When the Master went back to drawing, the blueprints became very strange indeed. Mauk was delighted by the way the structure had evolved, though his Master was not amused. As Mauk runs to escape the agitation of the Master, a wonderful, fun chase takes place through the Palazzo. What Mauk does not realize is that at some point during the chase all of the workers and the Master began laughing with Mauk. A new and wonderful world had been created. Topsy-turvy wasn’t so terrible after all. Perhaps it’s in the way we look at things and impossible structures may not be so impossible in the world of our imagination. Find a child to read to and enjoy the never-ending loop of this book. Or pick up the book yourself and read it for the fun of it. Remember, if anyone is looking, just remind them that life is a far more lively adventure if we never grow up.
************Rene Schwiesow is co-owner of the online poetry forum Poem Train. She is one of the co-hosts of the Mike Amado Memorial Series, Poetry: The Art of Words in Plymouth and Director of the newly formed Plymouth County Coalition for the Arts.